LIVINGSTON, NJ — Transitioning to remote learning this week has presented interesting challenges for Livingston parents who don't typically work from home and younger students who don’t typically use electronics at school; but for Livingston High School (LHS) seniors, who are no strangers to Chromebook assignments, the real challenge lies in the uncertainty of how many days they’ll get to spend together with their classmates between now and graduation.

After two days of learning from home, senior Ashley Williamson said it's going to be hard to spend so much time away from the friends she has been with since the beginning of her LHS career.

"We all have a fear of maybe not getting to walk for graduation and maybe not being able to go to our senior prom, and it makes us all sad to think about it," said Williamson, who plans to attend Hartford University in the fall. "Everything with online school is going well, but I would much rather be at school surrounded by my friends spending our last semester of school together."

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The new schedule has been particularly challenging for seniors involved in second-semester activities such as the spring musical, which was meant to open last Thursday, and spring sports, which have been suspended until further notice.

When Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order earlier this week requiring New Jersey schools to be closed beginning on March 18, it also meant that all interscholastic athletic competition would be put on hold until schools reopen.

In response, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) announced that the goal is to still be able to provide championship opportunities if and when spring sports practices and games are reinstated. However, if the traditional post-season tournament structure cannot be accommodated at the time schools are reopened, the NJSIAA said it will need to assess other available options.

For senior athletes like Luke Nardone, a standout on the LHS football team and a future collegiate lacrosse player for Christopher Newport University, the thought of not returning to school in time for a full final season is “a tough pill to swallow.”

"To think that I may have practiced on our turf for the last time on Friday is a chilling thought,” said Nardone. “I am fortunate enough to be able to compete athletically in college, but there is something different about high school sports that no other sport at any level can capture.

"Being on the field with your friends for the last time is sad to think about—especially if it is with guys you have been playing sports with since kindergarten, like myself. Overall, it is a tough pill to swallow knowing that our last high school season being canceled is in the realm of possibility."

Roger Rubinetti, head coach of the LHS boys soccer team, commented that it “must be devastating for the senior athletes who potentially will lose their senior seasons”—especially for those who will attend “academic-heavy universities where their schedules don't allow them to play a sport.”

“Some will be lucky to play intramural-or club-level sports at their colleges, but most will forgo sports for academics,” said Rubinetti. “Obviously some of these kids have played a sport or sports their whole lives, and this was going to be their farewell season…Some of these kids have been training all school year for their opportunity to play and shine on our athletic fields for the school, and now that opportunity may never come.”

One such player is Anthony Lopa, who is slated to serve as a captain for the LHS varsity baseball team and is currently undecided about his post-graduation plans. Coming from a captain’s standpoint and from the perspective of a player who doesn’t plan on taking his athletic talents to college, Lopa agreed that it’s especially difficult to consider the possibility of not being able to play this year.

“The captains and I had a whole plan of doing captains practices during our time off from school, but now we can't meet at all,” said Lopa. “It's unfortunate because for most of the seniors, this is the last time we're going to be playing baseball; and to have it postponed affects the physical aspect of our game, but most importantly the relationship we were building together. Hopefully we can be back together sooner than later and we're all trying to stay healthy."

Moving forward, LHS Mark Stern encouraged the seniors to take advantage of the extra time they will get to spend at home with their families over the next few weeks as well as the invaluable lessons they will learn through this unprecedented remote-learning experience.

“There are going to be some remote aspects to the workforce for them and careers that are distance-based and clients that they’re going to work with remotely in the future, so being able to communicate and establish relationships from a distance—whether across town or across the world—is certainly a valuable skill set,” said Stern. “It’s also a good lesson for them on resiliency. Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow? The ability to monitor, adapt and adjust is a really important skill set that I’m sure will last them a lifetime in a really positive way…

“Hopefully this will help all of us to hit the pause button and refocus on some things that are important, like spending some downtime with family. Even my own family has had dinner together for the last couple of nights in a way that we haven’t in weeks. Life gets busy, so any time that we can slow down and connect with people is special.”

Click on the headlines below for more on how the community is adjusting to the new remote learning schedule and other local news related to the global health crisis:

Livingston Community Reflects on First Day of Remote Learning

Livingston District Explains Comprehensive Contingency Plans for Remote Learning

COVID-19 Case Identified at Riker Hill Art Park; Livingston Residents Remain Unaffected

Livingston Police Update on COVID-19 Scams and Safety Precautions

Livingston Closes Municipal Offices; Provides Updates on Essential Services