BELMAR, NJ — In a time of social distancing and remote learning, Belmar Elementary School's faculty honored this year's graduates with pep rally-style sendoff on the school grounds.

Stationed along 12th Avenue for several hours on June 10, a small group of BES teachers and other staff members stood ready with flowers, signs and pom-poms awaiting the arrival of the eighth-graders and their family members.

And whether the guests of honor walked or drove into the roadside event, they were personally greeted at the corner of Main Street by Superintendent David Hallman and Special Officer Derek Fabian of the Belmar Police Department, the school’s safety officer. With Fabian sounding his police car’s siren to welcome each student, all were directed into the celebration area, where they posed for photos in front of a large banner, and picked up personalized yard banners and bags with some special BES gifts.

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Adding to the festivities, a DJ pumped out party tunes and teacher David Charette served as emcee — with microphone in hand — atop the board of education building.

During a school year when classroom instruction was cut short for three months due to the coronavirus, it was a joyful, upbeat occasion that brought together teachers and students with one day remaining in the school year and an actual graduation ceremony still in the planning stage.

“We think it’s safe to say that this has been a year of lessons learned. Every one of us, from students, to teachers and staff, administrators, parents, and community members, have been on a continual learning curve since March 17 when we abruptly moved to a virtual learning environment,” wrote the school’s administrators — Hallman, along with school principal Sarah Wilton and supervisor of special services Lauren Vasile — in an end-of-year letter to families.

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