B y PJ Ferguson

 

The town of Whitehall will not permit use of Skenesborough Park for any graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020.

Supervisor John Rozell proposed the idea to the town board on Wednesday after receiving inquiries from community members after it was announced that the Whitehall Central School District will be holding a “online virtual graduation” barring any changes to state guidelines on large gatherings.

“I have had requests to see if we can do anything for graduation for the senior class with use of the park in any way,” said Rozell.

While the board empathizes with the graduates, the matter is out of their hands.

“Can’t do it,” immediately responded board member David Hollister. “It’s a state park.”

Board member Timothy Kingsley agreed, worrying that a ceremony could open the town “up to trouble.”

“Our hands are kind of tied,” said Kingsley.

Town attorney Erika Sellar Ryan also advised the board against holding any type of event.

“I’m not crazy about it,” she said, warning of potential legal liabilities if someone were to get sick, “There is a lot of unknown here.”

Rozell agreed but noted that anyone “would have an awful hard time proving” where and when they contracted the virus because of its up-to-two-weeks incubation period.

While the board hoped to aid the seniors, they voted against it unanimously. Board member Christopher Dudley, who is also a school board member, was absent.

“We’re denying it due to state restrictions, period,” said board member Stephanie Safka.

Additionally, the board denied park reservation requests for the month of June, unless state guidelines are to change prior.

Since the announcement, an event to celebrate the seniors with a “drive-by graduation” has been started by a group of parents.

They are asking cars to form a line at the Rec Center at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, the day after the school’s graduation. The parade of vehicles will be led by the Legion Riders of American Legion Post 83 to honk and make noise to the seniors, who will be in their caps and gowns at the pavilion.

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