Princeton High School graduation coincides with superintendent’s retirement

Graduation Day, which is the day that Princeton High School seniors have been anticipating for 13 years, is nearly here – but it won’t be exactly what they had expected.

The seniors, clad in Princeton High School’s traditional blue caps and gowns, will not march out of the high school and onto the front lawn of the building June 16.

Instead, there will be a virtual graduation ceremony posted on the school district’s website, www.princetonk12.org, on June 16 at 5:30 p.m. It will be the first virtual ceremony in Princeton High School’s 92-year history.

The Princeton High School Class of 2020 graduation ceremony marks a graduation of sorts for Superintendent of Schools Steve Cochrane. He is retiring as the superintendent of schools after six years at the helm of the Princeton Public Schools.

The virtual graduation ceremony, which will be available for viewing for the next several weeks, will open with composer Edward Elgar’s traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” accompanied by drone footage. Three students will sing the National Anthem.

There will be several speakers, including Cochrane and Princeton High School Principal Jessica Baxter. She will address the very first class to graduate under her tenure, which began last summer.

Cochrane will present diplomas to the 353 graduating seniors – including a handful of Cranbury students – that was pre-recorded and incorporated into the video. There will be a video montage of the “turning of the tassels,” signifying graduation.

The ceremony will wrap up with on-screen credits to the volunteers and a list of seniors who did not participate in the ceremony. It will include photographs of retiring teachers and staff members, and of the 10 school board members to include the Cranbury School District representative. Cranbury sends its high school students to Princeton High School.

Cochrane praised Baxter, the first-year principal of Princeton High School, for her creativity, care and “unshakable focus on the students.” The virtual graduation is “no exception,” he said.

Cochrane noted the hardship and uncertainty that marked the seniors’ year, but there have also been many moments when the students, principals and teachers have done things that “truly inspired me as an educational leader.”

“As I am retiring at the end of the month, I have the extraordinary privilege of essentially ‘graduating’ with this class,” he said.

Cochrane said that while he is proud of all that they have accomplished as individuals, he is even prouder of what they have accomplished together. He praised them for their “remarkable resiliency, joy and purpose in the face of a global pandemic.”

“They have united in support of one another and our community. I look forward to watching them come together in the years ahead to continue to positively impact our world,” Cochrane said.