ROXBURY, NJ – People driving down Bryant Drive to Roxbury High School are now greeted with a long line of signs showing the faces of the school’s 2020 graduating seniors.

It is a dramatic display that school principal Dominick Miller characterized as “a small gesture.” But it’s really not very small.

The display includes about 310 signs carefully installed along the roadway by Steve Izzo, Steve Moskowitz and Tyler Wecht the Roxbury School District Buildings and Grounds crew, according to Miller. The line of placards stretches almost all the way from South Hillside Avenue to the school parking lots.

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Miller said the display was the brainchild of Roxbury High School Director of Athletic and Student Activities Stuart Mason. He said Mason and Roxbury High School Assistant Principal Elizabeth Omegna “were the ones responsible for making sure we able to procure the signs.”

To Show We Care

The principal said the closure of schools and cancelation of sports and school activities, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was particularly impactful for the Class of 2020. The school has yet to announce whether it will provide the seniors with an in-person graduation. A “virtual graduation ceremony” is scheduled to take place June 19.

“Our seniors are losing out on so much this year,” Miller said. “We were hoping this would let our seniors know that we are thinking of them and that we care about them.  It is a small gesture, but we want our seniors to understand that we realize what they are missing out on and that we appreciate what the class of 2020 had meant to Roxbury High School and our community.”

The signs display cost about $2,000, money taken from funds the school had budgeted for end-of-year events, according to the principal.

“Overall, our families and community have been grateful,” Miller said. “We have received a number of emails from parents thanking the administration for the display.”

He noted that he’s spoken with several parents who “were in tears” after seeing the signs.

Uncertainty Remains

Signs are wonderful, but what the seniors and their families really want is a graduation ceremony. Asked about that, Miller expressed frustration.

“Got any ideas?” he asked. “Right now, we are reexamining our graduation plans.  The state has provided very little direction, and there is a lot of figuring out to do.  As of right now, we are only allowed to have 25 people at an outdoor gathering.  We do not know if the state will change the restrictions.  So, we need to continue planning for a variety of scenarios.”

If there is any upside to the way the coronavirus impacted the graduating class, it would have to come under the heading of character building, Miller suggested.

“The class of 2020 is special for many reasons,” he said. “Our seniors have set a positive example in the classroom, in our community and in athletic arenas. My heart breaks for them.”

He noted that the seniors “missed out on what is supposed to be the most fun part of their senior year,” noting they lost their prom, their yearbook signing, their academic and athletic awards and dance recitals.

“Our seniors did not get a chance to perform at band, orchestra or choir concerts,” Miller added. “Our seniors did not get to enjoy senior nights for sports teams. My hope is that for all they lost, they were able to find the resilience, grit and determination needed to overcome adversity...Tough times don't last; tough people do. When people think about Roxbury they think of tough teams, determined and driven kids.”

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