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Caravan aims to honor graduating seniors with music, speeches

Community-led effort will wind its way through Mattapan, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain mid-day Saturday

Dr. Brenda Cassellius will give a speech at the Mattapan MBTA station as part of the graduation caravan event.
Dr. Brenda Cassellius will give a speech at the Mattapan MBTA station as part of the graduation caravan event.Nic Antaya for The Boston Globe

Proms, in-person graduation ceremonies, and final recitals may be canceled, but on Saturday, Boston’s students will be able to celebrate the end of their high school careers with a “commencement caravan” traversing much of the city.

“Graduation is a rite of passage and something everyone looks forward to,” said organizer Sharon Hinton, a Hyde Park resident and educator who has previously worked at Boston Green Academy. “It’s a way of showing our kids that we love them and appreciate them.”

The event will kick off at 11:30 in the MBTA Mattapan Station parking lot with speeches from Mayor Marty Walsh, Superintendent Brenda Cassellius, and students. It’s one of any number of celebrations happening across the region, including a city-sponsored virtual graduation ceremony on June 13 and a “drive-in” ceremony happening Friday at Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School in Lexington.


"We must embrace any opportunity to safely come together as a community to celebrate this year's truly unique group of graduates," Cassellius said in a statement.

The caravan — expected to wind through Dorchester, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain —will depart at noon with about 40 colorfully decorated cars packed with religious, business and community leaders from groups including the NAACP and Peace Boston.

“We’ve had an outpouring of support from everyone in the community,” said Hinton.

A sound truck will provide Latin, Haitain, and other music, including songs by hometown bands like New Kids on The Block and Aerosmith.

Any student can join the celebration, which Hinton said will be streamed on Facebook Live from the caravan’s Facebook event page, and on Boston Neighborhood Network TV.

Some seniors invited to join the route on four MBTA buses will sit spaced well apart. The electronic signs on the buses will read “Congratulations Class of 2020.”

Nalany Guerrier, a graduating theater and film student at Boston Arts Academy, said she has just now started to come to terms with the end of high school and that she will not cross a stage at graduation. She will take part in the caravan on Saturday.


"Due to the current events, it's hard to feel like we have hope and feel excited about our graduation and stepping into adulthood," Guerrier said. "These simple things alone, acknowledging it's a tradition, it's powerful to the youth."

Kaydra Hopkins, a graduating dance student at the academy, said being unable to celebrate commencement in person has made her feel “a little bit less valued as a graduating senior.”

“I felt so crushed that I wouldn’t be able to end it like the classes before me,” Hopkins said. “It made me sad that I’m not ending it with the people I spent the last four years with and made all these memories with.”

Hopkins said the caravan is a positive way to celebrate the achievements of her classmates. "It makes me feel like my class is being heard.”

After leaving Mattapan Square, the caravan will travel along Blue Hill Avenue and pass Franklin Park and Grove Hall, before heading to Nubian Square.

The parade will also pass by Madison Park Technical Vocational High School and Roxbury Community College, Jackson and Egleston squares, Forest Hills and Cleary Square in Hyde Park.

Finally, the caravan will pass Boston Preparatory Charter Public School and finish at Mattapan Square. The whole route is expected to take about an hour.