For the high school Class of 2020 around the county, absolutely nothing was ordinary.
And that will certainly be the same for graduation ceremonies, which in many instances will look nothing like they did in years past.
For the Kearny High School graduating class, however, their ceremonies — note that plural word, “ceremonies” — will at very least take place where they normally would have happened … on the field behind the school itself.
The Observer spoke last week with Kearny Superintendent of Schools Patricia Blood. Though Gov. Philip D. Murphy has given districts the option to have in-person ceremonies sometime in July, the district here has instead decided on smaller, drive-through options that will take place in June — over numerous days.
Unless, that is, the governor, at some point, loosens regulations that allow for gatherings of 100 or more people — but that point is moot for now.
Blood says graduates will enter behind the KHS stadium via the King Street entrance. Each graduate must be in a vehicle and a total of four family members may also be in the vehicles. Each will be met by two KHS administrators and Blood.
The stadium will be decorated with a backdrop as it is each year. A photographer will be on hand to take pictures of the graduates inside their vehicles — they won’t be able to get out of the cars.
The graduates have been informed the date and time of their ceremonies — they’ll take place between June 3 and June 15 on 9 separate days.
The mini-ceremonies will happen in five-minute intervals and they’ll be directed by members of the Kearny Police Department. Once each ceremony is over, cars will exit the rear of the high school via Garfield Avenue. And that’s it.
There will be no faculty members on hand.
The Observer can’t attend.
No exceptions will be made to there being a total of five human beings in vehicles.
They won’t hear or have any “Pomp and Circumstance,” but something is better than nothing, right?
It’s the reality of living in a COVID-19 world.
“We really want to honor the graduates,” Blood says. “If the regulations remained at 25 people being allowed to gather for an outdoor event, I’d have to do 17 separate graduation ceremonies. It just wasn’t feasible.”
To achieve that honor for the 423 young women and men who are about to embark on new life journeys, a large banner will be placed at Kearny and Midland avenues. Speeches will also be given and placed recorded on video for the kids to see afterward. It’s at that time the graduates will actually receive their diplomas — it’s too early to give them out now as the school year isn’t technically over until late in June.
Now for the younger students who are about to finish their careers at Lincoln Middle School, small parades of vehicles will visit the neighborhoods where they live. Blood says finishing the eighth-grade is more of an “advancement” than it is a graduation, so the ceremonies won’t be as extensive as they would be for finishing high school.
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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.