In the off and on rain at Wiscasset Municipal Airport Thursday afternoon, David Ingmundson predicted education might change more in the next year or so than in the 40 years he has taught reading, English and graphic design at Morse High School.
Due to the pandemic? That, and the Black Lives Matter movement coming to the forefront, he said: There is so much happening that could reshape thinking. Minutes earlier, he, fellow Morse and Regional School Unit 1 staff and some of the Class of 2020’s members were thinking specifics of a graduation never planned to be in Wiscasset, until the pandemic.
Since March, COVID-19 has brought remote learning and face masks, and moved the Bath high school’s graduation to the airport Saturday, June 13. At noon Thursday, in a hangar and then outside on the apron, student speakers and some of the adults who have seen them through high school talked parking, “Pomp and Circumstance” and posing with diplomas. Plans call for masks, social distancing and a stage where planes usually come and go.
In a walk-through where students heard their first, middle and last names called and picked up imaginary diplomas, one senior suggested an “x” mark the spot they are to stop and turn. And throughout the session, Principal Eric Varney, Assistant Principal Gallice and others kept it positive, sometimes light.
Gallice told seniors, there was no need to be nervous: It was going to be the best graduation at Wiscasset Municipal Airport ever. Building on a comment from the group, she added, the bar is low, “and you guys are going to sail right over it.”
Gallice repeatedly praised the students’ speeches she had seen, saying how good they were and different from one another. Graduation was going to be amazing, she said.
In an interview on the apron, Gallice expressed thanks for Wiscasset’s welcome. For a graduation the school didn’t know where it would hold or how, getting to have it at the airport and with Airport Manager Rick Tetrev’s help and others’ has been key, she said.
Tetrev felt the same toward the district and school’s work with him on it. Several pilots have also been helping. Paul Harvey said he feels like this is a way for him to give back to the community.
Tetrev already knew Ingmundson, who retires this school year. They were neighbors in West Bath when Ingmundson started at Morse.