Person of the Week
Planning a Safe Celebration for the Class of 2021
Faced with the prospect of another canceled graduation event, Kristin Cafferty stepped up to ensure The Morgan School Class of 2021 will have something to celebrate—safely. (Photo courtesy of Kristin Cafferty )
In the midst of all the school activities that were canceled as a result of COVID-19 such as prom, sports games, and school itself, one event might have been overlooked: Clinton’s Project Graduation.
Faced with the possibility of missing out on the event again in 2021, Kristin Cafferty is among those stepping up to ensure that doesn’t happen again.
Kristin is a co-chair of the committee responsible for bringing the event to life for the seniors who will graduate in 2021. Typically, a committee responsible for planning the next year’s project graduation is named in June, following the completion of that year’s event. However, in the midst of the pandemic, that didn’t happen this year.
Instead, “I did some poking around and got named to the board so I gathered up other people I know who would help or people I could persuade to help,” says Kristin, with a laugh.
Kristin says project graduation is “an adult-supervised event that is drug- and alcohol-free where the kids can celebrate graduation together safely.” Typically, the kids are bused to a location where they can celebrate, in places that are decorated according to different themes.
“Our goal is to get every senior to join us,” says Kristin.
While Kristin says the board has some ideas about what to do with the event next spring, many details are still up in the air, due to the pandemic.
“Obviously it has to look much different this time. We are still hoping that things are ironed out,” Kristin says.
She hopes that by next June the group will have more information and options available to it about how to safely navigate the complexities of project graduation.
“We are still hoping and planning for a typical grad party,” Kristin says.
As with planning anything, the biggest question is “how do you pay for it?”
“The fundraising has to look really different this year,” Kristin laments.
Usually, the group holds fundraisers at different events in person, but with many events canceled this year, the group has had to get creative and do contactless fundraisers like apparel sales, and bottle and can drives.
“We have what I call our lemonade out of lemons,” Kristin says of one of the committee’s best fundraisers: Making masks.
The masks come in several different designs and are adorned with The Morgan School and Clinton designs for residents to show off their Clinton pride. The masks cost $10 and can be obtained by sending an email to email@example.com.
So far, the support from the community has been inspiring.
“People are being so supportive because they know these seniors are missing everything,” says Kristin.
While the class of 2020 missed out on so much, in its last four months of school, Kristin points out that this year’s class is missing out on some staples of high school life right from the jump of the school year.
“We have a great group of senior parents working hard on this. We’re doing much better than we expected, but we’ve had to work really hard,” says Kristin.
The target goal for the fundraising is $25,000, which will help pay for project graduation, the lawn signs for seniors, and provide a bit of a head start to next year’s project graduation.
Clinton’s students aren’t the only ones that Kristin is concerned about. For work, Kristin teaches art to 1st through 8th graders in East Haven. Kristin has been teaching in East Haven for more than two decades and clearly enjoys her work.
“I love, love, love, my job even in this crazy time,” says Kristin.
To get them to “paint or color something and getting them away from the screen to do something is important,” Kristin says of her work now during the pandemic.
Kristin says she always wanted to be a teacher and that her favorite part of her job is “when a student creates something of their own and when they create something, they didn’t think they’d be able to at first.”
On being so involved in her community, Kristin says she was raised to be involved and that “being part of my community is really important.”
“We were taught if you want to see something done, to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself,” she adds.
In her spare time, Kristin says she’s been able to get more into doing her own art, particularly photography and painting. She also enjoys going to see her children Sean and Megan play sports.
Kristin grew up in neighboring Madison but has called Clinton home for 20 years.
“I love the small community feel and the diversity of Clinton,” says Kristin. “It’s smaller and homelier and I love the fact that Clinton is really coming into its own as a town to be proud of.”