The graduation ceremonies of the Class of 2020 and 2021 were up in the air in terms of to what extent they would be allowed to have their graduation in person.
The original plan was to have students be able to attend the Erie Insurance Arena in person, and graduate in ceremonies by college rather than class, but with no guests.
Thankfully, the class received some good news last week. The Erie Insurance Arena, where graduation ceremonies are always held, just received notice from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding new regulations.
These regulations increase the number of people allowed in the building. The new regulations allow the school to split the commencement ceremony into three groups, by each college, with the Hafenmaier College of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences and the Walker College of Business being combined.
As many family members and friends as desired can watch the proceedings through a livestream, but each graduate is also allowed to have two guests attend the ceremony in-person.
Executive director of Events and Board Services, Betsy Frank, talks about how they were able to plan graduation.
“We had an organizational committee charged with evaluating graduation formats that would not only serve the best interests of our students but would keep our college community safe,” said Frank. “Part of that meant dealing with ever-changing COVID guidelines and adapting our own plans to fit.”
Something special that Mercyhurst is doing is also having a ceremony for the Class of 2020. That class has missed so much and a proper ceremony is a great way to recognize all their hard work.
“After going through so many challenges in the past year, it was our goal to fete both the Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 with an in-person event,” Frank said.
All current regulations including social distancing and mask-wearing will still be enforced. The schedule for the Class of 2020 begins with the presentation of the Senior Class Gift in Christ the King Chapel on May 14 at 1 p.m.
On May 15, their Baccalaureate Mass will be held in Christ the King Chapel at 10 a.m. Their commencement ceremony will take place later that day at 1 p.m. in Erie Insurance Arena. As for the Class of 2021, graduation weekend will be May 14 through 16.
On May 14, there will be the Senior Class Gift Presentation in Christ the King Chapel at 2 p.m. At 3:30 p.m., there will be a livestream of the 2021 Awards Convocation from the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.
On May 15, there will be a Baccalaureate Mass in Christ the King Chapel at 10 a.m. The Mass will also be livestreamed.
May 16 is when the actual commencement ceremonies will take place at Erie Insurance Arena at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. All seniors must register for their two tickets in advance and should do so as soon as possible.
“We look forward to making this important graduation milestone a memorable one for all,” said Joe NeCastro, interim president.