HANOVER, NJ - Since June has arrived, there’s only one thing on everyone’s minds: school graduation. But with the COVID-19 crisis locking down all public events, the chances of a normal graduation ceremony are almost impossible. Many will be held virtually, while a few can still be held in person with strict social distancing regulations.
But for this year, at Hanover Park High School, each of the 206 seniors and two of their family members had the opportunity to come back to the high school to participate in a “virtual” graduation on June 4th and 5th. Each senior walked across the stage and received a diploma cover from their loved ones. This ceremony was taped, and the video will be released on June 26th, which was the date of Hanover Park’s original graduation day.
There has been talks about an “in-person” graduation ceremony to occur for the Hanover Park seniors sometime in July. The school district is waiting on the state guidelines and restrictions to find out how it will take place.
Until that time, the local communities are putting together some special gifts for the graduates. This includes the Hanover Park Class of 2020 Adopt a Senior program, where residents and local businesses can “adopt” a senior and collect items for gift baskets to celebrate their graduation.
“We were inspired to create the Hanover Park Class of 2020 Celebrate our Seniors adoption program after seeing one of our neighboring towns involved with a similar program,” said Florham Park resident Susan Haemmerle, co-organizer of the program with East Hanover resident Angela Costa. “We got our program up and running in early May.”
Haemmerle has lived in Florham Park for over 40 years. She and her husband Bill are both 1986 graduates of Hanover Park. Today, they have two daughters at Hanover Park; Kiera, who is a graduating senior, and Greta, who is a sophomore. Haemmerle works as a preschool music teacher and runs her own tutoring business.
“We will be delivering the baskets the last week of school,” said Costa. “We are happy to say that all seniors were adopted. All donations are being equally distributed among all 206 baskets.”
Angela Costa and much of her family has been a resident of East Hanover for over 40 years. Her husband James works as the Deputy Chief on the Newark Fire Department. Together, they also have two daughters at Hanover Park: graduating senior Ava and sophomore Emma. Costa herself is a 1990 graduate of Hanover Park, and is a stay-at-home mom and a Zumba instructor.
For this program, each senior will be receiving a basket filled with custom apparel, gift cards and many other surprises. There will also be a book containing countless notes of congratulations from all who have donated.
“We are thrilled to be doing this for the class of 2020 and we hope that the baskets put smiles on their faces,” said Haemmerle. “The support that we have received from the community is overwhelming. Everyone is rooting for the Hanover Park class of 2020!”
Among the hundreds of East Hanover and Florham Park donators, the generous businesses that have contributed to the Adopt A Senior program include Costco, Sorrento’s Bakery, East Hanover OEM/Cert, Last Licks, Lucy’s Gifts of Florham Park, Chick-Fil-A of Morris Plains, Kings of Florham Park, Dunkin Donuts of East Hanover, Shop Rite of Parsippany, Angels Wings Foundation, and Caravella Demolition.