MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ - The weather cooperated as the Class of 2020 of the Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools graduated over two days at three outdoor locations.
“MCVTS was finally able to have in-person graduations for all of our graduating seniors,” Superintendent of Schools Dianne M. Veilleux said in an email to the staff. “With persistence, creativity and effort, the staff of our district came together to celebrate the Class of 2020.
“These students are the generation born after Sept. 11 into a world facing one challenge after the next throughout their childhood, ending with the most disruptive senior year anyone could have imagined,” she said.
“Our students, their families and all of you have endured and persisted and risen to the challenge. One speaker after the next addressed how these difficulties have made them battle tested and stronger as a result.
“Graduation is the moment when we put our faith in the creativity, courage and vision of the next generation,” Veilleux added. “I think our faith is safe with the Class of 2020.”
Chairs were set up in groups of three, with the graduate in front and two guests behind, properly social-distanced from neighbors.
MCVTS Board of Education President Keith Jones II called the seating arrangement that had parents sitting behind graduates “great,” and said it should be carried forward even after the pandemic has subsided.
“It’s only fitting that you sit together,” he said.
The graduations of the Middlesex County Academy for Allied Health and Biomedical Sciences in Woodbridge and the Middlesex County Academy for Science, Mathematics and Engineering Technologies in Edison were held back to back on July 8 in William Warren Park in Woodbridge.
The graduations of the MCVTS East Brunswick and Piscataway campuses were held back to back on July 9 on the soccer field on the East Brunswick Campus. The graduation of the Perth Amboy Campus was held the same day on the softball field on the campus.
Chairs were sanitized by maintenance personnel between graduations, and microphones were sanitized between speakers.
At the Woodbridge Academy graduation for 61 seniors, speakers included valedictorian Regina Cheung of Edison, salutatorian Akul Umamageswaran of South River, and Freeholder Charles Kenny.
“Life doesn’t always work the way you want it to,” Kenny said. “You have found a way to get over, under or around the obstacles.”
“You’re here and you did it,” Principal Terri Ann Sullivan said. “Today is the day we have looked forward to all year.”
Diplomas were given to 39 graduates of the Edison Academy, including valedictorian Rocco Tropea of Old Bridge and salutatorian Dhruv Misra of Kendall Park.
Freeholder Charles Tomaro reminded the audience of Edison Township’s association with Thomas Edison.
“Edison Township has a long history of innovation,” he said. “Edison Academy is a big part of that. Continue to build on that legacy.”
The 178 graduates of the East Brunswick Campus were addressed by valedictorian Leanna Pede of Monroe, salutatorian Alexis Wilner of Edison, and Freeholder Director Ronald Rios.
“When we work together and support each other, success is never far away,” Rios said.
The Piscataway Campus’ 140 graduates included valedictorian Elsa Nyongesa of South Plainfield and salutatorian Fernanda Maria Jaimez of Perth Amboy.
Principal Nicole Slade reminded the graduates that they had made “imperishable friends.”
“Never give up on your dreams and passions,” she said.
Freeholder Kenneth Armwood spoke of the graduates as part of the post-9/11 generation.
“In want to tell you how much this says about your character,” he said.
The 56 graduates of the Perth Amboy Campus included valedictorian Megan Ortega and salutatorian Daniela Perez Nunez, both of Perth Amboy. Attending were Freeholders Shanti Narra and Kenneth Armwood.