WESTFIELD, NJ — If all you heard were the police sirens and horns, you might think that certain streets of Westfield were beset by traffic woes more common at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel.
Such, however, was far from the case on Wednesday.
Westfield High School seniors, who have suffered the loss of traditional celebrations during their senior year, were feted during surprise visits by local first responders and educators who dropped off lawn signs emblazoned with the students' names and congratulating them on their graduation.
The visit comes amid uncertainty about in-person graduation ceremonies, which the Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered may not happen until July 6 as a result of COVID-19 and even then may be significantly modified as a result of the pandemic.
The Westfield High School Parent Teacher Student Organization organized the surprise sign drop-off, the school district said in an announcement.
“The seniors are still waiting to find out when they will be able to have a ‘live’ graduation, so we wanted to do something to make them feel special,” said PTSO co-president Monica Bergin in the release. “It epitomizes the spirit of Westfield to have the teachers, the Westfield Police Department, the Board of Education and the Department of Public Works all come together to celebrate these kids.
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Bergin said that more than 60 volunteers helped with the effort that included six delivery teams.
The PTSO sells the senior lawn signs each year to raise money to provide items not included in the school’s budget, school officials said stated. Financial assistance is offered to ensure every student is able to have a sign to celebrate his/her graduation, officials said.
Madeline Stack, a Westfield High School senior, was among the students to enjoy the surprise.
“It was a wonderful surprise to see my teachers and I loved seeing all the decorated cars,” Stack said. “It made me, and all the other students, feel really special.”
Close to 400 lawn signs had been printed up for the effort, said Liz Ensslin, owner of The Inkwell, a printer in Kenilworth, which produced the signs.
Westfield High School Principal Mary Asfendis noted the event was a high point.
“I can speak for all of the Westfield staff in saying it was a highlight of our year to celebrate this amazing class,” Asfendis stated. “We were so excited to see our students and share in the joy of their graduation from Westfield High School.”
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