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Allentown High School plans in-person graduation for July 9

An in-person graduation ceremony has been scheduled for the Allentown High School Class of 2020.

Earlier this month, Principal Connie Embley announced on social media that an in-person graduation ceremony has been scheduled for 4 p.m. July 9 at Arm & Hammer Park (Mercer County Waterfront Park), Trenton.

The principal’s announcement came as Gov. Phil Murphy relaxed social gathering restrictions that had been in place since March when the 2020 coronavirus pandemic erupted in New Jersey.

“At this time we are expecting to be able to hold just one ceremony including all our 2020 graduates,” Embley wrote. “Seating will be limited and all social distancing protocols will be in place.”

Allentown High School, part of the Upper Freehold Regional School District, serves school-age residents of Upper Freehold Township and Allentown. High school-age residents of Millstone Township attend the school through a send-receive relationship between Upper Freehold Regional and the Millstone Township K-8 School District.

Social gathering restrictions that had been in place during the pandemic forced the cancellation of in-person graduation ceremonies at all grade levels in June. Indoor graduation ceremonies will still be prohibited from taking place in July.

Allentown High School’s graduation ceremony at the home of the Trenton Thunder baseball team will take place after modified in-person, outdoor ceremonies become permitted by the state on July 6.

According to state officials, in-person graduation ceremonies will be allowed if they take place outdoors and meet the relevant capacity limitation on in-person gatherings that are in place at the time of the ceremony.

“Please remember, at any time the governor can revoke our ability to hold an in-person ceremony and/or greatly limit the number of people who can attend,” Embley wrote.” We are very hopeful this will work out and be a great send-off for our graduates.”

In addition to the in-person ceremony in Trenton on July 9, a virtual graduation ceremony will be held for the seniors on June 20.

Upper Freehold Regional Superintendent of School Mark Guterl posted a video from the Trenton baseball stadium on June 16 in which he offered words of encouragement to students and staff members.

“It has certainly been a different year than usual and one of the more remarkable years I can remember being in education, but I am so proud of everyone,” Guterl said. “I am so proud of our students, I am so proud of our staff.

“Everyone in the school district is so proud of you and to be part of this wonderful team we have. I am also proud of our parents for all the support you have given. We know this has not been easy on you either.

“Please know the resiliency everyone has shown, between our staff, students and administrators, is really a remarkable thing. Hopefully, in the future, it’s going to make us all stronger and even better.

“Hopefully, over the summer, our nation will heal physically and emotionally. Throughout the summer, I’m hoping you have a chance to get outside and enjoy the weather as much as you can. We all need a mental break, we all need some time to socially and emotionally recharge in our district.

“I can assure you we are going to do everything we can to get our doors opened in the fall and make sure everything is safe and healthy for everyone involved,” Guterl continued. “I’m looking forward to seeing everybody in July at the graduation.”

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