Legislator Piccirillo of Holbrook urges Governor Cuomo to allow in-person graduations

HOLBROOK, NY (OnSachem.com / OnTownMedia.com) — Suffolk County Legislator Anthony Piccirillo (8th District) of Holbrook has urged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to allow in-person graduations this month.

Yesterday, Cuomo announced schools will be permitted to hold drive-in and drive-through graduation ceremonies this year, but that the ability to have in-person socially-distanced outdoor commencements will be evaluate at an unspecified later date.

“The school year is coming to an end. I know a lot of graduates are disappointed. We're going to allow drive-in and drive-through student graduations," Cuomo said. "We're going to keep evaluating. I get this. I get this on a personal level. My Michaela graduated college. Was supposed to graduate college this year. Well, she did graduate college this year. She just didn't have the ceremony. And you know, she worked so hard, and it's one of those real moments in life going to a college graduation or a high school graduation. So not to have the graduation is painful. I get it. As soon as we can do it, we will. If there's a way drive-ins and drive-throughs can be helpful, I hope that makes a difference in the meantime.”

Piccirillo is pushing back. He has written to the Governor to allow in-person graduation ceremonies this month.

“I am calling for you to allow schools to celebrate graduation in a traditional, in-person setting while being mindful of social distancing measures,” Piccirillo wrote in his letter to Cuomo.

Piccirillo added, “Suffolk County has been making strides in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and we will continue to do so as we enter Phase II of the NY Forward procedures. Phase II includes outdoor seating at restaurants, the re-opening of many businesses, and the opportunity to come together a little bit more than we have in previous weeks of self-isolation. I have received calls and messages from hundreds of my constituents who feel that it is unfair to move forward while continuing to deny students the chance to rejoice properly in this great milestone of their lives."

Two days before Cuomo’s announcement to allow drive-in and drive-through graduation ceremonies, the Sachem Central School District announced plans to hold a socially distant in-person graduation—if the state ultimately allowed—for the Class of 2020 at Sachem High School East in Farmingville and Sachem High School North in Lake Ronkonkoma. The district also announced a mobile graduation as a back-up plan (read the article here).

Here is the full letter Piccirillo sent to the Governor.


Governor Cuomo, 

I am calling for you to allow schools to celebrate graduation in a traditional, in-person setting while being mindful of social distancing measures. As you are aware, students across New York State have been out of the classroom for more than three months. While this has provided many challenges to all as we transition to unconventional teaching methods, this turbulent time is especially difficult for senior classes that will not be returning to their schools in the next academic year. Graduation serves as a final goodbye and a chance for the student body to celebrate their accomplishments as a whole. Prohibiting traditional celebrations in the coming weeks is neglectful in acknowledging the great undertakings of these hardworking students. 

Suffolk County has been making strides in reducing the spread of COVID-19, and we will continue to do so as we enter Phase II of the NY Forward procedures. Phase II includes outdoor seating at restaurants, the re-opening of many businesses, and the opportunity to come together a little bit more than we have in previous weeks of self-isolation. I have received calls and messages from hundreds of my constituents who feel that it is unfair to move forward while continuing to deny students the chance to rejoice properly in this great milestone of their lives. 

Many ceremonies across our State have already been cancelled. This includes the higher education and college graduations that took place earlier in May and were shifted on to virtual platforms or cancelled altogether. Firsthand accounts from these students have shown that virtual ceremonies simply do not place the same weight on the importance of the many years of schooling endured and have left many feeling deprived of the chance to revel in the midst of teachers and peers alike. Furthermore, these students feel that delaying such ceremonies to a later time is impractical since many will have already moved on to the next chapter of their lives. 

The teachers, administrators, parents, guardians and mentors that have taken these young-adults under their wings for more than a decade of schooling mirror my sentiments that schools should be given the opportunity to make their own arrangements and take care of their graduating classes one final time by ensuring a safe, six-feet apart in-person graduation ceremony. I ask that you please reconsider the interim guidance for graduation celebrations during the COVID-19 Pandemic and lift the current restriction on in-person ceremonies. 

Respectfully, 

Anthony A. Piccirillo

Suffolk County Legislator -8th Legislative District


Piccirillo’s Eighth Legislative District is located almost entirely within the Town of Islip, with a small part located within Brookhaven Town. It includes Bayport, Blue-Point, Holbrook, Holtsville, Sayville, West Sayville, Oakdale, and parts of Ronkonkoma, Bohemia, and Medford.


Submit news and opinions. Post to the events calendar. Sign up for free newsletters. Promote your business. 
Connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
OnSachem.com, powered by OnTownMedia.com, is the trusted hyperlocal source of news, views, info, events and more for the 85,000 residents that call Sachem home. OnSachem.com serves Farmingville, Holbrook, Holtsville, Lake Grove and Lake Ronkonkoma on Long Island, NY.

Submit news, views and sports. Post to the events calendar. Sign up for free newsletters. Advertise your business. Email the publisher. 
Connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
OnSachem.com, powered by OnTownMedia.com, is the trusted hyperlocal source of news, views, info, events and more for the 85,000 residents that call Sachem home. OnSachem.com serves Farmingville, Holbrook, Holtsville, Lake Grove, Lake Ronkonkoma and nearby communities on Long Island, NY.

Support OnSachem's local new coverage for Farmingville, Holbrook, Holtsville, Lake Ronkonkoma and south Lake Grove.

Now, more than ever, the world needs trustworthy reporting—but good journalism isn’t free. Please support us by contributing today.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.