WARREN, NJ - A veritable sea of cars assembled in the Stirling Road parking lot in front of Watchung Hills Regional High School (WHRHS) Friday, June 19, to ferry the Guests of Honor, the WHRHS Class of 2020, in front of scores of teachers, staff and well-wishers at the Graduation Car Parade, effectively Graduation Day Part 1. The Class of 2020 is now readying for Graduation, part 2 on July 8.
The date for the Parade was chosen because the Class of 2020 was originally scheduled to graduate at about the same time on June 19.
Graduation Day part 2 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 8, on the Tozier Stadium Football/Soccer Field, pending expected approvals from Gov. Philip Murphy and his COVID-19 advisors.
After several end-of-year “virtual” events that marked the completion of the Class of 2020’s experience at WHRHS, the nearly 500-member graduating class came together in one place for one of the first times since Distance Learning started in Mid-March for the Car Parade. The atmosphere was visibly joyous.
It required the better part of an hour for the entire fleet of cars to one-by-one crawl along the parade route. They pushed off from the Stirling Road Parking Lot. First, they rode past the cadre of teachers, administrators and board members cheering for the graduates along internal on-campus roadway leading to the WHRHS baseball diamond.
Next up were the separate row of lawn signs for each graduate, which lined the road down to and around the road just before the baseball stadium. There the parade route and graduate signs curled up to the parking lots in back of the Old North Building.
Once again teachers, staffers, and well-wishers, congregated there, spread out in the parking lot, down as far as the access path down to Tozier Stadium where the graduates in the past have processed down on foot. That should happen for them on July 8. The Car Parade route then proceeded back to the access road down to the baseball stadium, and again lined by more cheering teachers, staffers, and well-wishers. Throughout the parade, teachers, staffers and well-wishers were clapping,cheering for the students, and shouting words of encouragement for continued success in college and along the road ahead.
Some of the cars were driven by the graduates, themselves, but the vast majority were passengers in convertibles, or cars with sunroof. Notable too by their prevalence were 2 or 4-door Jeep Wranglers, whose tops, and sometimes even doors, were removed. Graduates stood, like the dignitaries in a parade up the ticker-tape-parade Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan, waving, cheering, and often shouting thanks to teachers, staffers and well-wishers all along the parade route. Many folks took photographs. Several of the twins in the class rode together. Some cars sported more than one graduate.
Fun For Parents And Siblings Too
Nearly all the cars also had parents and siblings, and in many cases grandparents and family pets, in the cars, who themselves seemed to be basking in the festive atmosphere. Cars were decorated, some with balloons, proclaiming their pride in being part of the Class of 2020.
Many graduates wore caps and gowns informally. Some had already decorated the tops of their hats with Letter Sweater-type logo lettering from the colleges they plan to attend next year.
Several banners were hung on the fences near the Stirling Road Parking Lot. One hung from the school’s Front Entrance Canopy, proclaiming “Congratulations Class of 2020.” Other banners, proclaimed: “Congratulations Class of 2020 We Miss You, We Salute You… Despite The Distance We Will Never Forget You;” also “Congratulations Class of 2020, United in Strength and Courage.”
One banner outside carried the photo that was also reproduced on the front page of the school’s Web site, www.whrhs.org.” On the banner is a class photo taken earlier in the school year in the stands at Tozier Stadium. All students were wearing the signature “Senior White” T-Shirts, in a stunning show of solidarity.
The photo seems to echo the resolute spirit of the participants of the Class of 2020 Car Parade. It is also reminiscent of the “Senior GLC Bulletin Board” inside the school. The board was put up in September, and all year showed the signature self-confidence, personality and collective resolute spirit of the Class of 2020. It borrows a style used by the TV show, “Friends.” Up top, the bulletin board head reads still, as it read all year: “Senior GLC, Season 20: Episode 20, The One Where They Graduate.”