CROSS RIVER, N.Y. - John Jay High School Principal Steven Siciliano announced Monday, May 18, that the Class of 2020 Commencement will take place in the expansive parking lot of the Jefferson Valley Mall in Yorktown Heights.

The ceremony will follow the drive-in movie concept that's popular this spring because it builds in social distance. Guests will enjoy a large screen presentation of live elements and prerecorded video from their cars and listen in on car radios.

The state-of-the-art large LED screen set up is a partnership between Katonah-Lewisboro School District, Somers School District and Bedford School District. All three high schools’ graduations will be taking place Jefferson Valley Mall on June 23. John Jay will hold its ceremony from 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

Sign Up for Katonah/Lewisboro Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

The set up will allow for traditional elements, such as live speeches from students and staff. It will also include some new twists such as pre-recorded messages and selfies of students in their caps and gowns that will be displayed as their names are announced near the end of the ceremony.

“It will certainly be a different experience than what we’re accustomed to, but we think it will also be meaningful and memorable one,” said Siciliano.  

Locking into agreements with the Jefferson Valley Mall, a media company, and two other school districts is the result of a quest Siciliano jokingly calls Operation Lemonade. He and a team of student leaders, counselors, parents, PTO, senior class advisors, operations personnel and administration worked tirelessly to find a way to provide seniors with a graduation ceremony where they could be together. 

“And I’m thrilled to report our committee has done just that,” he said.

Friday, May 29 between the hours of 1-3 p.m. is the tentative date and time to have caps and gowns delivered to students. It’s tentative since the district is waiting for ordered items such as t-shirts to all seniors, for example, to arrive. To make it extra special, know that parents, senior class advisors, and PTO are putting together goodie bags, including donated gifts by area businesses, to make the cap and gown distribution become one big care package for our seniors, that hopefully puts a smile on their faces.

Staff will distribute the care packages to our seniors from the district’s Yellow School Buses that parents will be invited to decorate before it leaves the transportation bay with its cargo. It will be wonderful to have staff and students reconnect at this time, however, in a socially distant manner for everyone’s continued safety.

The district will not receive the yearbooks in time to include them in the care packages. The current thinking is to have a “drive up” distribution of yearbooks and diplomas in the front circle of the high school the morning of graduation.

More updates are expected to be released in the coming week.