Local schools plan alternative graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic

(Photo from programminglibrarian)

With school districts red-flagging traditional graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cortland County schools (Cortland, Homer, Cortland Christian Academy, Cincinnatus, Marathon, and McGraw) have come up with alternative ceremonies to honor their students.


Cortland High School will be holding a walkthrough/drive-in graduation ceremony on Friday, June 26th.

Students and their family members/guests will drive through the school’s parking lot, as they reach the brand new auditorium, where graduates will walk through the stage and receive their diploma.

In order to minimize the wait time for families and graduates, families have been given one of four times to arrive at the school. Everyone attending received windshield placards to indicate their “flight number,” according to the school district. The arrival times for each flight are as follows:

  • Flight #1- Arrive and line up at 5:00pm
  • Flight #2- Arrive and line up at 5:45pm
  • Flight #3- Arrive and line up at 6:30pm
  • Flight #4- Arrive and line up at 7:15pm

The school’s parking lot will be roped off to help with the flow of traffic. Staff volunteers will be in the upper parking lot to help line up the cars. Graduates and guests will enter the auditorium through the music wing entrance in the order that they arrived at the school. As the graduate crosses the stage, their family will walk in front of the stage to take pictures and be close for the big moment. After the graduate has had their name announced, received their diploma, and turned their tassel, there will be a photo opportunity before exiting the auditorium out to the courtyard.

Each graduate is permitted to have up to six family members/guests with them during the ceremony. Everyone is required to have a mask.

This ceremony will be recorded, edited, and made available on the school’s website.


According to yesterday’s press release, the Homer Central School District will hold five separate graduation ceremonies with up to 30 students per ceremony for the Class of 2020. This year’s graduation ceremonies will be held at Butts Field on the Homer High School Campus on Saturday, June 27th.

This option will allow up to four family members to attend with each student, according to the Homer Central School District.

Students will be assigned a ceremony based on the order of the presentation of diplomas. The ceremony will include speeches from the Class President, Salutatorian, Valedictorian and Class Speaker.

The district will also live stream of each ceremony on the district’s website and Facebook page.

Click here to see the Homer Central School District’s full press release on this year’s graduation.


According to Marathon High School Principal Holly Marcolina, the school district has been meeting with students and families weekly via Zoom since April concerning graduation plans.

This year’s ceremony will be an in-person drive-in theatre style event at Greek Peak. The ceremony will be held on Sunday, June 28th at 9pm.

The ceremony is for graduates and their immediate family only, according to Marathon School Superintendent Rebecca Stone. However, the ceremony will also be live streamed through the school’s website and Facebook page for everyone to watch.


According to Cincinnatus High School Principal Dave Phetteplace, the school will be holding an in-person graduation ceremony on June 27th at 11am on the school’s front lawn.

This year’s graduation will be by invitation only, with tickets provided to each graduating senior to maintain the limit of guests as allowed by Governor Cuomo.

“It will basically be the traditional graduation with all of the usual speeches from the Principal, Superintendent, the Valedictorian, Salutatorian, class president, and faculty gets,” stated Principal Phetteplace.

Awards and scholarships will also be presented at the ceremony.


Following Governor Cuomo’s announcement giving schools permission to hold outdoor graduations of up to 150 people earlier this month, the McGraw Central School District announced the school’s graduation plan for the graduating class of 2020.

As originally planned, the McGraw Central School District will hold a Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2020 on Friday, June 26th at 6:30 pm. Each graduate will be limited to four guests.

More information will follow from Mr. Dimorier (High School Principal).

Cortland Christian Academy-

Cortland Christian Academy held their 2020 graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 6th.

Cortland Christian Academy streamed their graduation ceremony on their Facebook page.

Click here to watch.



Each graduating class also has an “Adopt a Senior” Facebook page, where people in the community can support and show love to our Cortland County High School Seniors (Cortland, Cincinnatus, Homer, Marathon, McGraw, and Cortland Christian Academy). Click here to find out how you can support them!

The Cortland Voice has also recognized and provided a list of this year’s graduates from each school district. Click on the schools below to see each list of graduates: