SOMERSET, NJ - Graduation time for the Class of 2020 seemed unlikely months ago, but Franklin High School seniors celebrated the second day of a three-day in-person graduation ceremony event Tuesday morning and evening at Warrior Stadium.
Class of 2020 graduates and their guests arrived at the Heller Park entrance of FHS' campus. Graduates were greeted by jumbo lawn signs with their photos presented side by side along the road to the parking lot.
To comply with COVID-19 related restrictions guests and graduates were required to socially distance and wear masks.
Upon entry into Warrior stadium graduates lined up to prepare for their procession, and their guests entered the stadium to be seated facing the graduates.
"The idea of facing the graduates towards their family is going to be really nice," FHS Principal Frank Chmiel told TAPinto. "They are going to get to see their graduates come in head-on, so they can easily film them from the stand and see their faces very clearly."
This group of seniors had a senior year like no other graduating class. There was no prom, project graduation, spring concerts, senior trip, yearbook signing dinner, or spring sports season.
“You have taken this all remarkably well," Chmiel told the graduates. "While you are very disappointed, you also realize the seriousness of the disease plaguing our world even down to our community, and your maturity in dealing with this situation makes us proud. You chose not to focus on the negative aspects of the quarantine but kept working.”
Chmiel's speech focused on the senior class's academic, sports, and arts accomplishments, as well as their dedication to social justice.
"As if the pandemic and quarantine weren’t enough, you were reminded again of the systemic racism that still exists in our country and watched painful images of police brutality on the TV and through social media," Chmiel said. "But instead of focusing on yourselves, staying down and depressed about how everything was affecting your lives, you shifted your attention to the bigger problems going on in society and got involved. You marched. You showed up and showed out."
Chmiel encouraged the graduates to remember their teachers, interesting learnings, and positive memories while never forgetting they will all always be Warriors.
"Even though you are leaving, and we are going to miss you, remember that you will be forever Warriors, and that Franklin will always be your home," Chmiel said.
Each senior was individually recognized by name and stood when their name was called. Cap throwing wasn't allowed but seniors stood, moved their tassel from the right side to the left.
The remaining ceremonies will be held Tuesday and Wednesday rain or shine, and will only be postponed due to thunderstorms or other extreme weather.
Email Editor Malik Lyons at email@example.com with your best graduation, graduation preparation and graduation celebration photos, and we will publish them in the appropriate article. Please include FHS Graduation Photo in the subject line and the day of week your graduate was celebrated. Let us know the name of the person we should credit for the photo and, the names of people pictured in your email. Also, let us know the day of week your graduate(s) celebrated.