Bangor High School graduates participate in the school's drive-through graduation ceremony last year. This month, high schools in the Bangor area will have close to normal graduation ceremonies. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

Bangor-area high school seniors will have near-normal graduation ceremonies this weekend, a departure from festivities last year that included drive-in celebrations and scaled-back ceremonies aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

Bangor, Brewer, Orono and Old Town high schools, as well as Hampden Academy, will hold commencement ceremonies for the class of 2021 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with fewer COVID-related restrictions than last year, when Gov. Janet Mills had banned gatherings of 50 or more people.

Bangor High’s graduating senior students will walk across the stage at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Bangor Soccer Field. Brewer High’s ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Brewer Community School. Hampden Academy’s ceremony will be held on Sunday morning, and Orono High School’s ceremony is set for Saturday.

Old Town High School seniors will graduate at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the school’s MacKenzie Gymnasium.

Elsewhere in the Bangor area, seniors from Hermon High School and Bangor’s John Bapst Memorial High School graduated last weekend.

Bangor High School Principal Paul Butler said that Sunday’s ceremony would be somewhat modified from previous years because there hadn’t been much time to rehearse. Graduates and guests will not be required to wear masks, though graduates will be spaced apart from one another, Butler said.

Last year, due to coronavirus concerns, Bangor High conducted a drive-through commencement ceremony, in which small groups of students lined up to receive their diplomas while their families and other well wishers observed from nearby cars.

“Faculty and staff have been all hands on deck to put together an event that students deserve after such a long run of interruptions that made school a little bit more challenging over the past year-and-a-half,” Butler said, adding that 1,600 chairs were being delivered to seat attendees. “I’ve placed a special call into Mother Nature for sunshine and moderate temperatures.”

Like Bangor, Brewer High won’t require its guests or students to wear masks, and the ceremony will be held outdoors to allow the entire class to graduate together, Principal Brent Slowikowski said. Last year’s seniors graduated in shifts, he said.

“The outdoor venue affords us some freedoms we wouldn’t have if it were indoors,” Slowikowski said. “We got lucky with the weather. It looks like it’ll be perfect, but we don’t want to have to bank on that every year.”

About 140 Brewer High students will participate in Saturday’s outdoor ceremony.

Lia Russell

Lia Russell is a reporter on the city desk for the Bangor Daily News. Send tips to LRussell@bangordailynews.com.