RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph High School held their “In-Person” graduation for the class of 2020 on Wednesday July 8. A poll was conducted of both parents and students on how to hold the ceremony while complying with social distancing rules and state guidelines limiting gatherings to 500 people because of COVID-19.
Overwhelmingly, the vote was to have all the students together at one time for the ceremony, however the caveat to that was that no guests could attend.
“What is it like to be a parent? It is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but in the end it teaches the meaning of unconditional love,” said Principal Debbie Iosso, as she quoted Nicolas Sparks.
“Deciding to make this a graduate only event, was the desire to give this class an opportunity to create one more memory as a complete group, because they missed so much of the end of senior year,” said Iosso, as she addressed the parents watching on live stream. “By you allowing this to happen today for your children, that is the meaning of unconditional love.”
While a typical graduation uses about one third of the football field, the social distance requirements this year spread the graduates chairs out much further apart, and the ceremony covered about two thirds of the field. Masks were also required to be worn by all.
Salutatorian Josephine Wu implored her classmates to remember the social injustices all around us, even here in Randolph. “I say this not to divide, but to encourage all to do the right thing,” said Wu. “Listen to others with empathy and kindness in your heart.”
Her sister, Valedictorian Jacqueline Wu told her fellow graduates to “figure out who you are and embrace that person.”
“Only you can be the architect of your dreams, so show the world who you are,” said Wu.
The teacher nominated to speak this year was Mr. Michael Lonie.
Lonie offered a few pieces of advice, including what he called the best advice he ever received, which was “Don’t forget where you came from.” After expanding on how important our communities are in shaping who we are, Lonie added some other words of wisdom.
“It is almost poetic, that after all these years of education it boils down to two words – Pay Attention,” said Lonie. “Learn to seek knowledge and truth in unexpected ways.”
After the students were called up to walk across the stage, they remained distanced and made their way to a spot where they could remove their mask for a photo opportunity.
Class President Lenny Moldavsky spoke last.
“This is our final moment together as the class of 2020, from here on out our lives will take us in separate directions,” said Moldavsky. “I hope you all enjoy this moment, because these friendships and this community is something we will not get anywhere else. Goodbye to Randolph high school, I hope to come back in the future and reflect on the memories created here. Thank you and God Bless America.”