Northern Essex Grads to Forgo Pomp and Circumstance as College Cancels Formal Commencement

A prior commencement ceremony at Northern Essex Community College. (Courtesy photograph.)

Caps, gowns and an inspirational speaker on the quadrangle is an experience this year’s graduates of Northern Essex Community College will forgo as officials continue to deal with the ramifications of the coronavirus.

College trustees were briefed on graduation ceremony plans Wednesday, learning the May 16 scheduled commencement will be a casualty of the times. How graduation will be conducted is now up to the Student Government Association to decide.

“Celebrating the hard work of our grads, especially after such a challenging semester, is very important to us,” Director of Public Relations Ernie Greenslade told WHAV. “We’re still figuring out the best way to do this and we hope to share details soon.”

According to Greenslade, two thirds of classes are already affected with this past Monday’s change to remote learning. Before this, 20% of classes were already being conducted remotely and another 15% consisted of a mix of in-person and online classes.

Northern Essex considered a pass/fail grading option, but ruled it out.

“That option has been carefully considered but we’ve determined that it would present more disadvantages for our students than advantages. Instead, we are asking our instructors to be as flexible as possible with their students on issues like deadlines and the way they will submit assignments to give the students the most opportunities to successfully complete their courses.”

Students are expected to receive the semester’s final grades on May 18.

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