BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Lee Field at Ridge High School will be illuminated tonight, Friday, at 8:20 p.m. for 20 minutes for the last time to salute the graduating Class of 2020, whose end-of-the year senior activities have been disrupted by precautions being taken to combat the Covid-19 virus.

The “Friday Night Lights” salute was just one idea by Bernards Township school leaders to try to put some fun and pomp back in the once-in-a-lifetime memories.

Plans are in place for as many as possible of the 467 graduates to be back on the high school athletic field – albeit briefly – next Thursday night, June 18, for a diploma presentation ceremony.

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That night, parents in cars will drop off their graduate at one end of Lee Field and pick them up at the other end. The students will go to the center of the field for professionally taken photos.  No spectators will be in the stands and parents will not be allowed out of vehicles. The ceremony will be live streamed.

Senior caps, gowns and tassels and personal belongings have been hand delivered by 32 teams of more than 80 staff volunteers to seniors at their homes. The “We Love Our Senior Committee” included a special message with each delivery.

A senior tribute video with messages from graduates will be shown on a YouTube premiere at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday. Link information will be distributed on Thursday morning.

Next week may not be the last time the class reunites to memorialize their accomplishment. The school is planning another graduation ceremony for summer. Families have been asked electronically to indicate whether they would prefer a date during the week of July 13 or 20, and whether they prefer one ceremony with no guests allowed, or to divide the class and have three ceremonies with two guests per graduate. Current state guidelines permit larger gatherings after July 6.

As an example of the detail that had to be covered because school is not in session, graduates were asked to submit a name pronunciation card and were invited to a “Zoom” pronunciation meeting with the teachers who will be reading names Thursday night.

A graduation survey was sent to seniors to create a Class of 2020 post-secondary college list, and to tell counselors to which college to send a final transcript, which is mandatory by all colleges and to leave a personal e-mail for future contacts.

Alas, one treat might be lacking. According to material sent from the high school, yearbooks may not be delivered before the close of school on June 18.

The senior prom (scheduled for Aug. 5) and the Project Graduation Bash have been cancelled due to the social distancing regulations that remain in effect. Class leaders will use accumulated funds to plan a future alumni event, perhaps over Thanksgiving holiday.

Photos of the diploma presentation will be able to be ordered from Gradimages.

A banner congratulating the Class of 2020 has been hanging in the middle of Basking Ridge for the past couple of weeks now, thanks to help from the Bernards Township Department of Public Works.  

Senior lawn signs with photos and names of each graduate are displayed on Collyer Lane at South Maple Avenue.  

A virtual awards night was held earlier this week. Parents and students who received awards were sent electronic invitations to the event.

Material drop-off and pick-up for underclassmen will be held June 15 through 17 by grade level.