Dear Governor Murphy,
Some are calling for a total opening of the in-person graduation process utilizing the current distancing and face covering protocols. I am not a champion of that movement. I would, however, like to propose an out-of-the-box graduation process that encompasses the intentions of the in-person proponents, but ensures that safety protocols are maintained.
I do not need to tell you about the disappointment our state’s graduates are feeling as the COVID-19 pandemic takes away one of their most anticipated life milestones. To be sure, we must utilize all measures to keep our children safe during this unprecedented time. That is without question. However, we must find a way to allow some measure of graduation ceremony. This is most important at this time for the graduates, and their families for many reasons. For some, this will be the highlight of their academic and/or social life; for others, it may be the celebration of the first within their families to graduate; for most, this is the last time they will be in community with those they studied socialized and cried with during their most formative. years. For the parents and significant others in their lives, it is a singular snap shot of the joy and transition of that graduate.
What I propose, is to have a multi-day graduation celebration – spreading out the graduating classes within each school over the course of one week. So for instance, in my home district town of Parsippany, we have two public high schools; Parsippany Hills with 280 graduates and Parsippany High with 231. Instead of having them all participating in one traditional ceremony at each school, we have a reduced number of graduates over one week and limit parents/guardians to only two (2) per graduate. By doing this, we greatly reduce the number of people involved at each school, and still provide a wonderful experience for the graduates and their families. This could also work for the private high schools as well. For instance Morristown Beard in Morristown, NJ has approximately 100 graduates. In discussions with some of the parents, they indicated they could accommodate 20 graduates a day for one week.
We are in unprecedented times that call for creative measures to provide a measure of normalcy while maintaining personal protection practices for the well-being of all. My proposal does just that, and I respectfully ask for its consideration.
Deputy Minority Leader
Legislative District 26