BASKING RIDGE, NJ — Halfway through Thursday morning's ceremony to distribute diplomas to the Ridge High School 2020 graduates, it started to rain.
But a little rain on a makeshift graduation ceremony under slate gray skies was a small inconvenience to endure for a graduating class that endured much deeper levels of disappointment this spring when their final semester -- and all the traditional bells and whistles that go with the end of a senior year -- was wiped out by the pandemic-driven closure of schools and the move to online classes for the last three months of the academic year.
Thursday morning, parents in cars dropped off their graduates at one end of Lee Field and picked them up at the other end. One by one, at compliant "social distances" from each other, students went to the center of the field to accept their diplomas and for professionally taken photos. No spectators were in the stands and parents were not allowed out of vehicles. The ceremony was live-streamed on YouTube.
This may not have been the last time the class of 467 reunites to celebrate their graduation. The Bernards School District may plan another graduation ceremony next month. Current state guidelines permit larger gatherings after July 6.