WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield High School’s graduation date has been set for July 8, school officials announced Tuesday.
The announcement at the school board’s virtual meeting came just hours after Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement that outdoor gatherings can now include up to 100 people.
“The senior class in a survey made it very clear that what they wanted the most was an in-person graduation with all students,” said Superintendent Margaret Dolan. “The administrators promised that, when it was possible, they would figure out a way to make it happen. So, today was really an announcement saying we’re going to keep our promise.”
Dolan said the district would release more details on the ceremony in the coming weeks. She said she anticipates being able to discuss graduation plans further at the board’s next virtual meeting June 16.
Dolan explained that frequent changes in state guidance have made it difficult for the district to make any definitive graduation plans. Murphy on May 26 announced that in-person graduations would be allowed in the state beginning July 6, but that only 25 people would be allowed to attend.
The governor increased that limit to 100 people on Tuesday. Murphy has said he hopes to raise the limit again to 250 people on June 22 and 500 on July 3, if the downward trend in COVID-19 cases continues.
Despite these uncertainties, Dolan said, the district remains committed to honoring the senior class.
“Our seniors deserve this,” she said. “We’re very proud of our seniors. They’ve been through a lot, they need to be celebrated, and we’re looking forward to doing that.”
Board President Peggy Oster said district officials, including the superintendent and Principal Mary Asfendis, are working hard to make graduation as special as possible while still following the state’s regulations.
“Dr. Dolan, Ms. Asfendis and the whole staff at the high school really want to honor the students in a proper way,” Oster said. “We want to do what they ask for in the survey, but we also have to follow the rules and regulations that are set out for us by the government. I look forward to hearing from Dr. Dolan and her staff as to what the plans are for July.”
Previously, the district had been planning a virtual graduation ceremony on June 23. However, graduating seniors remained hopeful that an in-person ceremony would still be possible.
Senior class president Alexis Hammer wrote a letter to the governor in May, asking him to allow in-person, socially-distanced ceremonies.
Meanwhile, local first responders and educators delivered personalized lawn signs to members of the senior class last month.
TAPinto Westfield is offering a special opportunity to highlight individual graduates in the local community this spring. Your graduate can be highlighted in a personally crafted Milestone message on TAPinto Westfield and its Facebook page for family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy and share. More details can be found at this link.