To the editor:

I am writing on behalf of my organization (the Maureen Heaton Foundation), but also several families and organizations involved in the Pentucket Regional High School 2021 senior awards night.

It is with complete displeasure that we have been told we, as award givers to deserving seniors in our community, are not allowed to have a personal connection to the event.

Last year, at the height of COVID-19, organizations were allowed to submit videos for a wonderful livestream done by a then-graduating senior. This, of course, was an adjustment, but actually ended up being wonderfully done and ensured a connection was still made between the organization and the student because the organization could still present the award, albeit virtually.

This year, we are only being invited to a livestream and can "submit a few words to be read" if we wish. This is an absolute disgrace, especially considering the event will be held outdoors. When questioning this, the response stated the West Newbury Board of Health guidelines, which we all totally already respect and abide by daily.

The issue is that local organizations are the "why" and reason for scholarships to even exist, and they are being completely watered down to just having someone else speak a few words for us.

We are committed to giving back to the community (many of us in honor of a lost loved one) and major conditions are being placed on how we are allowed to share our missions and our money. We would like the opportunity to either repeat how we were able to be involved last year, or to allow us to attend in a distanced way outdoors.

How ironic is it that with last year's virtual accommodations, we felt much more connected and respected.

Katharine Heaton

West Newbury

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