WELLFLEET — Gov. Charlie Baker’s Covid-19 recovery guidelines, issued on May 18, stated that “drive-in theaters are allowed to operate only for the purpose of showing movies.” That left some wondering whether next week’s events planned for the senior classes at Nauset Regional High School and Cape Cod Regional Technical High School would be permitted to happen.
But John Vincent, the owner of the Wellfleet Drive-In, said Monday that he “received a direct call from the highest authority,” that is, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, granting permission to host graduation events at the theater.
And so, as reported by the Independent on May 14, Nauset seniors will celebrate at the drive-in on Sunday, June 7, and Cape Cod Tech will hold its graduation ceremony there on Thursday, June 4.
Chris Ellsasser, Nauset’s principal, said Monday that the drive-in event is being billed as a “senior celebration,” rather than a full-fledged graduation. The school is planning a socially distanced prom, senior dinner, and graduation ceremony for later in the summer.
Billy Terranova, principal of Cape Cod Tech in Harwich, could not be reached for comment in time for this article, but it is assumed that its graduation, with photographs of the Class of 2020 in their caps and gowns projected on the giant movie screen, is going forward as planned.
As for the public reopening of the Wellfleet Drive-In, Vincent said he is “still preparing for the movies” and making repairs to the snack bar. The Independent will report on the reopening of the drive-in as more details come to light.
Nauset’s drive-in celebration will, instead, be a commemoration of the graduation that would have been. Graduates will decorate their cars, a nod to the tradition of adorning their graduation caps, and watch a montage of video clips from the year. The salutatorian, valedictorian, and principal will give speeches, although these will be more lighthearted than the ones planned for July. “Hopefully, it will feel kind of like a carnival,” Ellsasser said.
Nauset seniors will also have a motorcade on Friday, May 29, what would have been their last day of school. Seniors will parade around the high school in their vehicles, escorted by police and fire trucks.
Ellsasser suspects the drive-in and motorcade events may become traditions, but not, he hopes, out of necessity. He emphasized the need to ensure that seniors feel as if they aren’t missing out on anything: “The virus doesn’t define them,” he said.