CLARK, NJ - Mayor Sal Bonaccorso believes he can work with the Clark Board of Education and the Town Council to run a safe graduation ceremony for Arthur L. Johnson High School’s senior class this year.
“Let me tell you, if we ran it (graduation), it would feel like a Marine bootcamp,” said Bonaccorso. “I would tell parents from the start, you are not going to get good pictures, take those at home, but we can hold a proper socially-distanced ceremony.”
Now all the mayor must do is convince Governor Murphy, that the town can manage the process safely and thoughtfully. Bonaccorso is trying to do just that in a letter of appeal he sent to the governor’s office recently requesting a chance to discuss his ideas.
In his letter, Bonaccorso makes a plea for the graduating seniors that have already lost much of their school year. He also explains the number of graduates, available spacing on the school’s grounds and asks for the governor to consider that Clark could manage a safe ceremony.
The mayor is still waiting on a reply. “I haven’t heard back yet, and if I don’t hear back that will be the start of the next letter,” said Bonaccorso.
Holding large gatherings such as commencement ceremonies are currently in violation of Governor Murphy’s Executive Order 107 put in place early in the pandemic.
Here is the letter Mayor Bonaccorso sent to the governor:
Dear Governor Murphy.
I would like to appeal to you for the Clark A.L.J. Highschool Class of 2020.
I truly believe that the Clark Board of Education along with this Mayor and Town Council, could hold a traditional outdoor graduation. I believe we could have social distancing and conform with all of your executive orders.
These young adults as you are aware are hurting. Their Senior year was wiped out.
As a leader like yourself, we must always consider health and safety. God only knows we in elected office have been put to the test. As the Mayor of Clark for 20 years, I would never jeopardize anyone's health and safety including my own. I would ask you to put this graduation in our hands.
I would like to discuss this further with you. We have about 180 students graduating. Our bleachers hold about 700 people on both sides of the field. We can have multiple options in achieving this outdoor graduation safely.
Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
--Mayor Sal Bonaccorso