A New Hampshire School Is Holding A Ski Lift Graduation Ceremony

by Christina Marfice
Seniors At New Hampshire High School Will Graduate By Chairlift
Thierry Dumas/Getty

How do you maintain social distancing at graduation? This New Hampshire high school figured out the best possible way

It’s a question high schools and colleges all across the nation are grappling with: How do you celebrate graduation while still maintaining the social distancing that keeps us all safe amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic? Some families have hosted drive-by celebrations. Celebrities have stepped up to hold virtual parties and give inspiring commencement addresses for 2020 grads. And one high school in New Hampshire has outdone them all with its plans for a very creative, unforgettable, and socially distanced ceremony for its seniors.

Kennett High School in North Conway, New Hampshire, will hold its graduation ceremony literally on top of a mountain. One by one, on June 13, seniors will be invited to ride the chairlift up 2,000-foot Cranmore Mountain to receive their diplomas at the summit, before hopping back on the lift and taking another scenic ride back down, as a fresh high school graduate.

Kennett Principal Kevin Carpenter said the idea started out as a joke when staff and administration were talking about how social distancing would impact this year’s graduation ceremony. But the president and general manager of the Cranmore Mountain Resort, Ben Wilcox, also happened to be a Kennett High School alum, so Carpenter decided the idea was worth a phone call to discuss.

“Ben said ‘Let me ask the owners’ and they green-lit it,” Carpenter told his local newspaper, the Union Leader.

Usually, graduation for Kennett’s classes of seniors is held on the school’s football field. This year, amid the coronavirus pandemic, that won’t be possible. But each member of the 172-strong class of 2020 will be able to collect their diploma at the summit of the mountain, which also serves as the home base for the school’s ski team. If they’d rather, students can be presented with their diplomas at the base, instead. Each student’s ride up, diploma and photos, and ride back will take about 30 minutes. It’s about the most epic replacement for a traditional graduation ceremony we’ve ever heard of.

Carpenter said students are working on a soundtrack for the event, which is only going to make it even more epic. He said they’re also planning to hold a post-graduation ceremony car parade through Conway, so the entire town can cheer on the class of 2020.

“Everybody’s ecstatic about this,” he said.

“How cool is it to live in a ski town and graduate at the top of a mountain, by chairlift?” added Becca Deschenes, Cranmore’s director of marketing. “It will be a memorable day for sure.”