By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(June 4, 2020) Since traditional graduation ceremonies could not take place this year because of covid-19-related health concerns, administrators of the Worcester County Public Schools and Stephen Decatur High School seniors celebrated their achievement with a Boardwalk drive-through parade last Wednesday.
More than 250 cars participated in the Class of 2020 parade on the Boardwalk to mark the graduation of the school’s 295 seniors.
“I really think it was fabulous,” Principal Tom Sites said. “The families and the graduates, especially the graduates, truly enjoyed it. I heard so many kids talk about how excited they were to be on the Boardwalk and to be involved in something special and unique like this.”
In addition to families and teachers, members of the Worcester County Board of Education participated in the parade as well. The name each graduate was announced through a speakerphone on North Division Street, and the cars entered the Boardwalk from 26th Street.
“It was so exciting to watch all the families out there congratulating us and cheering us on,” Sites said. “It was unique to where we live and that’s what I think is so special.”
The event was so successful that the school is considering making the Boardwalk parade a new tradition for future graduates.
“During and after the parade I was [called] by so many families that I know personally who said ‘My child’s graduating in two years or my child’s graduating next year, and I want to do the same thing.’
“One of the things that came out of it that didn’t really, really resonate with me until I started handing those diploma jackets to the students was parents are usually 50 to 300 feet away, watching at the convention center,” he continued. “[On Wednesday], they were right there. They got to experience and were almost walking down the runway with their students to get their diploma.”
Above all, Sites appreciated everyone who came down to support his students amid the pandemic.
“I want to thank [Ocean City] and everybody who helped to make this possible,” he said. “The town really opened their arms to us and gave us anything and everything that we need to make it successful for our kids.
“I can’t thank enough the members from the police department, Frank Miller over at special events, the mayor and city council,” he added. “Our sheriff’s department was a big part of it, helping us out. Our superintendent has been supportive from the get go … it was just a team effort.”
Hundreds of people were already enjoying the Boardwalk that evening, but Sites and several students recalled seeing many pedestrians stopping to cheer the graduates along the way, adding to the experience.
Class of 2020 President Max Ewancio recalled seeing strangers cheering the students on from every angle.
“Every street on the right side and the left side there would be groups and groups of people cheering everyone on with signs and everything,” he said. “It was a great time. I just to say thanks to everyone who came out to support us.”
Ewancio, who will be studying at the University of Maryland, College Park for mechanical engineering, believes it would be an amazing idea to hold the Boardwalk parade every year.
“I think the traditional graduation is always an exciting idea but this would be just something so much different than everyone else’s graduations,” Ewancio said.