Call for Outdoor High School Graduation Ceremonies Grows in North Jersey

The call for high school graduation ceremonies continues to grow louder in North Jersey after the Waldwick Board of Education approved a measure to file a lawsuit for in-person graduation ceremony.

The move by Waldwick calls for their lawyer to go to court if the state doesn’t make a decision regarding in-person graduations by June 1.

The decision by the board follows legislation introduced by Assemblyman Jay Webber urging Gov. Phil Murphy to allow high school graduation ceremonies. 

Webber Resolution

“Tens of thousands of New Jerseysans have joined together to say ‘Let our seniors walk, governor’” stated Webber (R-Morris) in a press release. “Seniors know, as much as anyone, that the virus has real consequences and that social distancing is important. They understand their graduation ceremonies must be modified.”

During his May 19 media briefing, Murphy said he’s hopeful in-person ceremonies could be held during the summer as long as New Jersey’s infection rates and hospitalizations continue to decline.

Parents and graduating seniors, the governor said, “have a right to have hope that we could still find a way—and they do have a right to have hope…I have that same hope. But, I would add to that, bear with us—we’re trying to figure this one out and I would hope sooner than later.”

He went farther than that on May 22, stating Murphy on graduation guidance would come after Memorial Day.

Outdoor Activities

Murphy noted outdoor-related activities “where we can have some management of capacity and social distancing (are) high on our list of considerations.”

“We want to get this right. It would be a big gathering. The super-spreader notion. Not only are these big gatherings in close proximity, but the impact the virus has on individuals from those gatherings is consequential.”

Assemblymen Christopher DePhillips and Kevin Rooney, two of the sponsors of Weber’s resolution, have offered their support to the board and are calling on Murphy to allow in-person graduations to take place.

“I commend the Waldwick Board of Education for standing up for the rights of their students because they understand parents and students have worked years to earn the right to take part in this rite of passage,” stated Rooney (R-Bergen). 

Exhaust Avenues

DePhillips believes every avenue should be exhausted to make sure no student misses this milestone.

“Students have had events such as their Senior proms and Senior trips stolen from them by the coronavirus pandemic and if we have a way to bring back some normalcy to their lives with allowing in-person graduation, then we should do it,“ said DePhillips (R-Bergen)

Legislators in 24th district are united in calling for safe and responsible outdoor high school graduations for Garden State senior students.

Trust Graduates, Families

“We believe that reasonable concerns can be met and overcome by prudent planning and we implore the governor to trust our graduates,” said State Sen. Steve Oroho (R-Sussex).  

“If people can responsibly walk and celebrate in our parks and forests, then graduating seniors should be able to walk and celebrate their accomplishments in the same way,” said Assemblyman Parker Space (R-Sussex).  

Assemblyman Harold Wirths noted that the governor’s opening of certain parts of the state economy has already been a success and that graduations will help return a sense of normalcy.

“We tell young people that if they do the right thing and follow the rules, they’ll be successful and their maturity will signal greater trust,” said Wirths (R-Sussex). “I can’t think of a better way to reward graduates’ hard work with a little more trust and guidance from my generations to celebrate their graduation.”

5 comments

  1. Clearly Mr.Space has never experienced the beforehand, execution of and aftermath of a HS graduation. The out-of-touch Assemblyman is clearly using the selfcenteredness of youth to further his own aims and that of the extreme right wing of the Republican Party. Unbelieveable. Oh wait, sadly it’s not.

  2. The problem with this is that loud talking, yelling, cheering, which are all likely to happen spontaneously, all cause spread of large amounts of aerosolized virus over a long distance, one that is impossible to protect against. So if people could actually have their mouths stuffed with socks upon entry to the area, it might work, but other than that, it’s a definite dangerous no-go. It’s not worth having people die as a result of the unrealistic desire for a formal in-person ceremony.

  3. High school graduation is so important? Give me a break, this is a minor step in any person’s life. Keep grandma alive, stay home!

  4. What a waste of money. If the State Legislature want to spend money, provide any money spent on lawsuits towards college scholarship. This is health and safety issue. That may work for graduations for schools that have less than 100 students but not for larger districts. We don’t need to create new super spreader cells.

  5. Assemlyman Jay Webber, Assemblymen Christopher DePhillips and Kevin Rooney, two of the sponsors of Webber’s resolution, Assemblyman Parker Space, and State Sen. Steve Oroho, ought to lead by good and smart example, rather than with an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex. Their actions, go a long way to promote a dangerous situation for the constituents, and for everyone else, that potentially could lead to many deaths.

    Health guildelines from ‘esteemed medical professionals’, state that large gatherings, at this time of pandemic, need to be prevented, for the health and safety of all.

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