BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Phil Murphy announced yesterday, outdoor graduations will be allowed after July 6, 2020.

"With the Governor’s announcement that outdoor graduations can now take place after July 6th, our GL administrative team is busy planning for an outdoor event that week," said Berkeley Heights BOE President Doug Reinstein. "We are excited that our seniors, who have been remote learning since mid-March, will now get the in-person ‘send-off’ that they rightfully deserve." Reinstein said more details on the event will be shared shortly. 

"From the very start of this, our focus has been on how do we support our kids and support what their wishes are -- based upon what we're allowed to do. So, while we proceeded with a lot of other planning just in case, we were always hopeful that we'd be able to proceed with a traditional outdoor ceremony that appropriately celebrates all that these students have accomplished," said Gov. Livingston Principal Rob Nixon. "To that end, we are cautiously optimistic in regard to what the Governor might share today in terms of parameters. Once we hear what that is, we look forward to sharing more specifics about what we can do in terms of having a somewhat traditional outdoor ceremony."

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TAPinto reached out to Gov. Livingston senior Victoria Vanriele, who has kept a positive outlook during this pandemic time, although she lost the opportunity to finish out her high profile high school track career.  She is very grateful for the Governor's recent announcement allowing outdoor graduations.

"Over the years I’ve been able to play in the band at the graduations of other students and it was honestly very moving for me. I cried each time I played and I always imagined myself walking across the stage," said Vanriele. "So, I’m grateful for the opportunity to have an in-person graduation. I hope my family and family friends will be able to witness this as well. It’s really meaningful to be able to experience the commencement and obtain closure, having been with some of my fellow students since kindergarten."

Reinstein confirmed that parents will be allowed, however, he awaits Gov. Murphy's guidelines to be issued today on the total number of attendees allowed at the event, which will drive how many guests each graduate can invite. 

Sam Bass, Sports Editor for Gov. Livingston's student led newspaper, The Highlander, and varsity baseball player that was to see quality time on the mound, is also happy with the announcement. "Graduation is always important because it signifies completion of something difficult," said Bass. "For the class of 2020, we have been through more than any graduating class in recent memory. Having a graduation in person would show how resilient we have been through this time and being surrounded by people who have been through the same thing adds another element of accomplishment."

Pranav Casula also likes the idea of having an in-person graduation. "I think that after spending 12 years of hard work in school there should be a proper send off for seniors," said Casula. "A virtual graduation does not really show the true feelings and actions that happen at graduation so a proper graduation is really important." He added, "I think it means a lot to be able to graduate alongside my classmates. After seeing the world being turned upside down these past few months, being able to graduate normally tells us that the world has not completely ended/changed. Also, while we are being robbed of our senior memories, I think that the ability to go on to college or wherever else gives us the ability to make new, better memories. Its hard to lose out on these memories, but I'm confident that we should be able to make better memories in the future." 

Reinstein added, "Our CMS parents participated in an online survey and indicated a preference for a virtual graduation in June, rather than an in-person event at a later date. Therefore, our 8th graders will participate in a virtual event on June 17."