Graduation Day, which is the day that Lawrence High School seniors have been anticipating for 13 years, is nearly here – but it won’t be exactly what they had expected.
The traditional send-off at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton and the Project Graduation party that follows the ceremony have been canceled because of COVID-19. Project Graduation is a free, all-night graduation party with food and entertainment under adult supervision.
Superintendent of Schools Ross Kasun, however, has a plan in place to try to make up for it.
“I know these times are particularly disappointing for the seniors and their families. Our seniors worked hard and deserve to be celebrated. We wish we could have given them a traditional graduation ceremony,” Kasun said.
“We have received numerous great suggestions from parents about ways we can celebrate our seniors and make the end of their high school career special. We will do what we feel is best for our district, always with a focus on not putting our students or staff in danger,” Kasun said, acknowledging the parents’ suggestions.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions, the Lawrence High School administration has worked hard to find creative ways to honor the seniors, he said.
There will be a virtual graduation ceremony posted on June 19 at 7 p.m. on the school district and high school websites at www.ltps.org, and will also run on the school district’s cable channel. This decision was maintained after Gov. Phil Murphy announced on May 26 that graduations could be held in person after July 6.
The ceremony will feature student speakers, Lawrence High School Principal David Adam’s remarks, student performances, individual names and photos of each graduating senior, the presentation of the senior class by Kasun, and the conferral of diplomas by school board president Kevin Van Hise.
Acknowledgment of the seniors kicked off May 1, when each senior received a “Class of 2020” lawn sign, paid for by Project Graduation and delivered by Project Graduation parents and high school administrators.
Project Graduation also has some other things planned – from a major prize drawing each Friday in June during the Lawrence High School administrative update, to “Adopt-a-Senior.”
Caps and gowns, a senior gift, two tickets to the cap-and-gown photo o and other goodies will be delivered June 12 to each “adopted” senior’s home by high school staff, administrators and faculty.
The senior cap-and-gown photo op on June 19 will take place on the high school football field. Each senior will walk across the stage – socially distanced – to be congratulated by Adam, the Lawrence High School principal. Their parents may take a photograph of their senior, and a professional photographer will be on hand, too.
Meanwhile, the Senior Spotlight slideshow on the Lawrence High School webpage allows the seniors to share something about themselves – from Summer Leblanc’s disclosure that she has signed up for the Army National Guard to Max Frank’s favorite high school memory (going out to lunch) – as well as their plans and some advice to underclassmen.
The Senior Awards ceremony was posted in a video on the high school webpage on May 28, and the Athletic Awards ceremony will air June 4 on the high school web page to highlight record-breakers, championship teams and senior scholarship winners.