SOMERSET, NJ - More than 500 Franklin High School Class of 2020 students celebrated their four years of hard work and dedication during a virtual ceremony Tuesday morning.

The FHS 360 (A Virtual Reality Experience For The Graduating Class of 2020) video was released to the public on June 23. Viewers with special virtual reality headsets were able to see a 360-degree panoramic view of the various locations on the Franklin High School Campus.

Pre-recorded video of speeches by the Class of 2020 Class President, Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and FHS Principal Frank Chmiel could also be seen via 360-degrees.

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Class of 2020 highlights were also featured along with performances by members of the Franklin High School Choir. FHS alumnus and celebrity guest speaker Queena Bergen of World Exhibit LLC, and Kim Hill of AVID Feature LLC made FHS 360 possible.

Bergen also performed pieces of one of her original spoken-word pieces for viewers. Bergen also donated packaging for Senior Class gifts made possible by the FHS PSTO.

The event was the first of many, FHS graduates will have this year.

On May 26, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that schools will be permitted to have in-person graduation ceremonies, something that would have previously been prohibited under the state’s COVID-19 social distancing orders. The graduation ceremonies can be permitted to begin July 6 as long as they comply with social distancing.

"We were the only Somerset County High School that started to plan for this immediately," Chmiel told TAPinto... "Most of the schools were going to just stick with the drive up graduation ceremony or virtual commencement but Dr. Ravally and I knew this too important to the seniors, so we started writing up a plan immediately for in-person graduation. Then when Governor Murphy upped it to 500 people, we had to revise the plan even more, and we were happy to do that."

FHS will hold two in-person ceremonies per day for Class of 2020 students on July 13, 14, and 15 for a total of six graduations. Graduations will take place at 10 am and 5 pm with 90 graduates at a time and up to 4 family members for each event. 

The ceremonies will be held rain or shine, and will only be postponed due to thunderstorms or other extreme weather. Class of 2020 graduates and their guests should arrive at the Heller Park entrance of FHS' campus. During the drive up jumbo lawn signs with graduate's photos will be presented side by side along the road to the parking lot. 

Attendees will be split up at the entrance of Warrior stadium. Graduates will line up to get ready for their procession, and guests will enter the stadium to be seated where they will be facing the graduates.

"The idea of facing the graduates towards their family is going to be really nice," 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."

Chmiel provides graduation preview for the Class of 2020:

The ceremonies are expected to last one-hour each and attendees are expected to return to their vehicles after the recessional music is played. Picture taking after the ceremony is prohibited in order to comply with current executive orders. 

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