SPRINGFIELD, NJ — For the class of 2020, Tuesday evening marked the final chapter in their academic careers at Jonathan Dayton High School.
Seniors in the class lined up in small groups based on their assigned time frame, cueing up to walk across the center of the turf field, where hey received their diploma covers. As they walked off, students and their families stopped at. a second station, where they took a unique graduation photo with the school's iconic clock tower in the background.
Following the walk, the footage of the students walking would be spliced in to their virtual graduation ceremony held earlier this year.
For Dayton Principal Dr. Norman Francis, the ceremony was something that he felt was special, and he said it was a great way for the graduated seniors to get their moment to shine.
"Symbolically, it's that last step that every student has the opportunity to take, to really feel that they can celebrate the culmination of their high school experience," Francis said. "In meeting with students before the year was out, that was one of the things that was brought up. If we can't do the ceremony now, can we at least come up with a way so we can have that walk.
"So keeping that in mind, when we had the chance to put in. a plan to the state, we decided to go with that, because this type of setup, also being outside allowed for us to maximize the safety precautions that we had to put in place [...] You can just see the smiles on the faces of the students."
One of those seniors was Lilly Friedman. Friedman is a decorated member of the class of 2020, who received the academic achievement awards in French, English and Science, the Fish Scholarship for Performing Arts, recognition from the national honors society, the national merit scholarship council and a whole host of other awards and commendations.
She spoke about what she was taking away from the year and the ceremony.
"I think our entire class has gained a great sense of resilience," Friedman said. "We've all worked so hard to ge there we are, and the fact that we had a little more complications than usual makes us so much stronger as a class. And the fact that we were able to take what we've learned at the school and still be able to work with grace and with strength while we're still at home, I think that's pretty impressive."
"I think this celebration is a nice way to reconnect with the familiar faces we've seen at Dayton, and a great way to celebrate the fact that we've all done such a great job to get where we are today," Friedman added.