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Old Bridge High School Class of 2020 receives traditional sendoff with four in-person commencement ceremonies

OLD BRIDGE – Old Bridge High School held four in-person commencement ceremonies at Lombardi Field to honor the 729 graduates of the Class of 2020.

Two ceremonies – one at 8 a.m. followed by another at 10:30 a.m. – were held on July 8 and 9.

During the 45-minute ceremonies, the school honored the Class of 2020 valedictorian and salutatorian, Jordan Totten and Rayaan Chowdhury, respectively. Jordan is headed to Georgia Tech in the fall, where she will study chemical engineering. She plans to have a career in alternative energy or environmental products. Rayaan plans to attend the Honors College at Rutgers University, where he will study biology and aspires to become a doctor.

With Gov. Phil Murphy’s announcement to allow 500 people to gather outdoors on July 3 and to allow in-person graduations after July 6, school officials came together to plan what is best for Old Bridge High School (OBHS) 2020 class despite the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The graduation normally is held at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.

Murphy lifted the state’s stay-at-home order on June 9, which went into effect on March 21, and also increased limits on the number of people who can gather indoors from 10 to 50 people or 25% of a building’s capacity and 25 to 100 people outdoors. The numbers of people allowed to gather outdoors will increase to 250 people on June 22 and 500 people on July 3.

Each graduate was allowed to invite two guests. Everyone was required to wear face coverings and temperature screenings were conducted at the entrances to the field.

Temperatures soared to the mid-80s as graduates, seated in the home bleachers, and family members, seated socially distanced on the field in beach chairs and on blankets, listened to speeches by Schools Superintendent David Cittadino, OBHS Principal Vincent Sasso, and Vice Principal Sally Fazio. Jordan spoke on the second day of the commencement ceremonies.

The district livestreamed and taped the commencement exercises for siblings, extended family members and friends to view the ceremony from home. In addition, multiple graduation stages were set up outside of Door No. 1 in the front of the OBHS main building for family photo opportunities from July 8-10.

While the ceremony was shortened from the usual two hours, it included many of the traditional components. Each student was recognized, tassels were turned, mortar boards tossed, and the graduates marched from the stadium to the field to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance.”

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