Class of 2020 celebrates graduations unconventionally

This is the Warwick Drive-in, which is officially where the class of 2020 will be graduating.

This is the Warwick Drive-in, which is officially where the class of 2020 will be graduating.

The class of 2020 had a rough ending to the school year. In early March the school was shut down for what was an expected two weeks due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, that would quickly change to school starting after spring break, then to school being suspended indefinitely, and then on May 4th, Governor Murphy announced that schools would be closed for the rest of the year. This led many to wonder what schools would for graduation ceremonies. 

Initially, Governor Murphy announced there would be no in-person commencement ceremonies. However, as the outbreak of the virus slowed, and pressure from the class of 2020 increased, Murphy announced in-person ceremonies could take place after July 6th. While some schools such as Mahwah planned on holding in-person ceremonies, other school districts such as Sparta turned to holding spirit weeks for seniors. Other schools recorded seniors walking and held a virtual graduation ceremony. 

Meanwhile, due to population and logistical concerns, West Milford School District is planning a virtual graduation at the Warwick Drive-In.   The senior portraits of each graduate of the Class of 2020 will be publicly displayed on the big screens of Warwick Drive-In, starting at 8:45 P.M. Before the ceremony, the class of 2020 will meet in the senior lot at 7:00 P.M, and will have a police escort to the ceremony, with “parade route” stations along the way. Kevin Schaeffer thinks “this is a very unique way for a graduation to happen”. Students and their families will need to stay by their cars and if you need to go to the restrooms or buy a hot dog, a mask is required.

Although this is a unique way, and a cool story to tell others about how one graduated at a drive-in, many would rather wait the extra time and have a proper graduation. Kyle Milne states “An in-person graduation would be better, but this will do.” The main issue with doing a graduation ceremony in July was some people may be on vacation, and wouldn’t be able to attend. To go along with that, the high school turf is torn up to be replaced and isn’t scheduled to be done any time soon. Ticketing is also an issue.  There are 260 graduating seniors.  If each of them were to have two people attend that brings the total attendance to over 700 people, which could be problematic. 

Due to the lack of precedence, many people have taken other steps to make this year memorable for seniors. For example, students who attended Maple Road Elementary School had their own celebration which began at Bubbling Springs and ended with a fun night at the school. Phil Strina stated “While not traditional, I greatly appreciate all the effort people are putting into making this memorable for us.” According to sources, there have been plans that other elementary schools, such as Paradise Knoll, are planning to do something similar in the coming days to what Maple Road did. 

Aside from drive-in, students will pick up their diplomas at the auditorium doors at West Milford High School the next day between 8:00 A.M-12:30 P.M. Lors Photography will be at the school for seniors to take pictures with their family. 

Besides graduation, the seniors went through an emotional roller coaster, as prom was cancelled on June 4th, then rescheduled for July 29th, and then cancelled again. Obviously with the social distancing guidelines, it would be very difficult for a prom to happen. Some seniors who already had their prom attire have been seen taking pictures with close friends to make up for the loss of prom.

There’s also mentionings of the mayor holding a barbeque for the seniors as one last get together before many head their separate ways. It is rumored that it is going to be held at Bubbling Springs, where they can sign each other’s yearbooks and get to say a proper goodbye as many of them have not seen each other for several months. While not much else is known about the event yet, the seniors will have one more event to look forward to after so many were taken from them. Despite not being what anyone had envisioned going into the year, the class of 2020 will have plenty of stories to tell for years to come as their journeys await them.