From Dr. Kalisha Morgan, Interiim Principal, Columbia High School:
Dear Students and Parents of the Class of 2020:
We hope that you and your family are well. Thank you for your patience as we waited to receive information regarding the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020.
While we were very much hoping to be able to have an in-person graduation ceremony, we are beholden to Governor Murphy’s decree. As per the New Jersey Department of Education Memorandum issued on May 8, 2020, “Executive Order No. 107, signed on March 21, 2020, prohibits gatherings of individuals for parties, celebrations, and other social events, which includes all in-person graduation ceremonies. Since the Executive Orders will remain in effect until further notice, only virtual graduation ceremonies can be planned at this time.
To adhere to these orders, ensure safety, and optimize enjoyment for all, the District will celebrate the Class of 2020 with virtual graduation ceremonies on Wednesday, June 24, 2020. Over the course of the last few weeks, school administrators, parents, and teachers met to discuss the ways that we can honor the Class of 2020. We are excited to share our plans (so far):
CHS will broadcast a professionally produced video virtual graduation on June 24th that will feature speakers, video vignettes, messages from dignitaries and celebrities and end with a finale montage that incorporates photos and video statements from the class of 2020. Each graduate’s name and image will appear on screen over the course of the broadcast. Students will be sent information on how they can submit videos for inclusion in the virtual ceremony.
Following the virtual graduation broadcast, families in our two towns will be encouraged to go outside their homes at 20:20 (8:20pm) and make some serious noise for our 2020 graduates using bells or whistles or simply applause. We will also ask the fire departments and the police departments to participate.
The HSA Midnight Madness Committee is selling Senior Salute Signs for $20.00 (see below and purchase here: CHSCougarShop.com) to community members who would like to demonstrate their support. Local businesses will be given free signs to display in their storefronts, and we will also put signs around CHS to show our pride.
In addition, every family of a graduating senior will receive a free lawn sign, personalized with their student’s first name inscribed on it.
What’s more, the Midnight Madness Committee is creating a huge banner for the Valley Street fence alongside CHS’s Ritzer Field, which will include a photo of every one of our seniors. This will be a great way for students to ‘see’ their friends, serve as a backdrop for families to take photos (while maintaining social distance), and to signal our support for this special class.
The committee will continue to meet weekly to further develop and expand on these plans, including the possibility of scheduling in-person graduation ceremonies at a later date, in accordance with the State’s policies regarding social distancing and allowable public gatherings.
Please know that we share your deep disappointment about traditional end-of-year events and June graduation ceremonies not being possible this year, and be assured that we are working tirelessly, creatively, and collaboratively with the parent community to give the class of 2020 the acknowledgement they have well earned. We will continue to engage our students remotely and celebrate their many successes while maintaining everyone’s health and safety first. Thank you for your continued partnership and flexibility during this challenging time for our students.
Dr. Kalisha Morgan, Interim Principal