The 2020 graduating class at Kennett High School will ride to the top of Cranmore Mountain on June 13 to get their diploma

By Joelle Goldstein
May 18, 2020 01:47 PM
Cranmore Mountain Resort ski lift
| Credit: Mary Altaffer/AP/Shutterstock

A high school in New Hampshire is ensuring its students can receive their diplomas in a safe — and creative! — way, despite not being able to hold a traditional ceremony amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead of walking across a stage to mark their graduation on June 13, Kennett High School's class of 2020 will ride to the top of Cranmore Mountain in Conway on a ski lift to receive their diplomas, according to The Conway Daily Sun.

"It's not a traditional graduation, but I think it's going to be a spectacular one, for sure," Kennett Principal Kevin Carpenter said during a recent virtual meeting with the school board, the outlet reported.

The creative idea for the ski lift commencement initially came about as a partial joke when attempting to figure out how the students could receive their diplomas while also adhering to social distancing mandates, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Typically, graduation is held on Kennett's football field — but after the ski lift idea was proposed, Carpenter decided to reach out to Ben Wilcox, a Kennett alumnus who now serves as president and general manager of the Cranmore Mountain Resort.

Cranmore Mountain, whose peak is 2,000-feet high, is located just a few miles away from the high school, according to the Union Leader. It also happens to be where the school's ski team competes, and they consider it their "home" mountain.

"Ben said 'Let me ask the owners,' and they green-lit it," Carpenter recalled to the local newspaper.

After the owners approved the idea, Carpenter took it to the school board and graduation committee, who he recalled to the Daily Sun were instantly on board and "overwhelmingly... ecstatic about this."

On the big day, all 172 students will have the option of riding the ski lift to the top of the mountain to receive their diploma. Groups, organized in alphabetical order, will be spaced out for safety, with the full ride expected to take half an hour.

"They'll ride it up, get their diploma, they'll get a picture of them getting their diploma on the top of a mountain, they'll go to another spot which we'll have set up staged with a second photographer, and they'll get a picture with a pretty amazing backdrop," Carpenter explained in a video interview with CNN.

"It looks like it would be about a 30-minute round trip," Carpenter added to the Daily Sun. "Which we feel really good about because it's not just, 'Oh, I showed up there, I got the diploma, and then I left.' This is going to be an experience for them."

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Students are also reportedly working on a soundtrack for the graduation ceremony and considering a post-commencement car parade through Conway, according to the Union Leader.

For those who don't want to ride the ski lift, Carpenter told the outlet there will be an option to receive their diploma at the base of Cranmore’s Skimobile Express Quad Chair.

A backup plan in the case of inclement weather is also scheduled for the following day on June 14, the outlet reported.

'There's so many people doing the virtual graduation ceremony or the drive-up, and you get handed a diploma thrown into the car," Carpenter told the Daily Sun. "I think we're putting together something that's going to be outstanding."

"It's going be neat, it’s going to represent the Mount Washington Valley, and Cranmore has come on board with us," added Carpenter.

As of Monday, there have been over 1.4 million cases and 89,504 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to The New York Times. In New Hampshire, there have been at least 3,596 cases and 172 deaths reported, according to the Times.

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