ROXBURY, NJ – The Roxbury High School graduating class of 2020 - a group of students that saw its final three months of school upended by the COVID-19 pandemic - was honored today in a videotaped "virtual graduation" sendoff.

The 80-minute-long video includes songs by the Roxbury High School choir, speeches by class officers and school district officials and a reading of the graduates’ names accompanied by their photographs.

The high school seniors are hailed as being historic, having been forced to finish their final year through remote instruction. In a reaction to the spread of the new coronavirus, all Roxbury schools were closed to the public on March 16, a move that was initially supposed to last for two weeks but ended up remaining in effect for the rest of the school year, which ends on Wednesday.

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The precautions against the virus forced the cancellation of all sports and school activities, including the special events – such as senior prom – cherished and anticipated by many.

It also forced the district to pull the plug on the scheduled June 19 in-person graduation ceremony. An in-person ceremony is now scheduled for July 8 with groups, each containing 100 graduates, separately receiving their diplomas.

Lessons Learned

A common message throughout the video tribute: Disappointment and hardship can build strength and character.

“We were born in the year following 9/11 and are heading out into the world in the year of COVID-19,” says Roxbury High School Class of 2020 Valedictorian Lauren Tom during her part of the video.

The video also includes comments by Roxbury High School Principal Dominick Miller who says he is honored to address the graduates.

“Seniors, this is definitely an historic time, not only in your life but in the history of our country,” Miller says. “And I’m not sure it’s worth bragging about, but for the rest of your lives, you can say you were able to graduate high school without having to go into the building since the middle of March.”

Adding a little levity, the principal even launches into a mercifully short segment of a capella singing. He digs deep and renders a line, from Jackie De Shannon’s 1969 hit Put a Little Love in Your Heart, advising the graduates that, in doing so, they can make the world a better place.

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