As New Jersey continues Phase 2 of reopening amid COVID-19, one thing that has been deeply affected is graduation ceremonies. Across Hudson County, ceremonies differ by municipality, from a virtual ceremony in Union City, and a drive-by graduation through West New York, to in-person ceremonies in North Bergen.
Bayonne plans on doing all of the above for their eighth grade and high school graduates. Initially, Superintendent of Schools John Niesz announced there would be a virtual graduation ceremony on June 24, with a drive-thru graduation at Stephen Gregg Park on June 23, 24, and 25.
The drive thru ceremony was orchestrated so that students would not be exiting their vehicles.
However, as more guidelines were released from Gov. Phil Murphy, the rules changed to allow students to exit their vehicles and walk across a stage to receive their diplomas.
The drive-thru process
The Bayonne Board of Education is doing everything it can to give graduates the best experience despite the pandemic. The Stephen Gregg Park was plastered with decorations with staff stationed at the entrance at 38th Street.
Each school had a designated time, with the High School students separated into two time slots.
BOE personnel will be posted at the southwest corner of the park, in the parking lot, where the ceremonies will occur.
Vehicles will enter from 37th Street, travelling north on Park Drive to a checkpoint at Dillon Drive.
Graduates will then be permitted to continue north while nonparticipants will be directed west on Dillon Drive to exit the park. Only vehicles participating in the graduation will be permitted in the park.
Mayor James Davis offered his congrats to the graduates on social media.
“Let’s all congratulate the Class of 2020 and wish them well as they move on to their next chapter of learning,” Davis said. “The Bayonne Board of Education has done a magnificent job of providing a fun, enjoyable, and safe graduation for every student in our school system.”
Board of Education Vice President Christopher Munoz offered his well wishes to grads in a statement on social media.
“Congratulations to all the members of the Class of 2020. You are a remarkable class,” Munoz said. “Your adversity that you face today, will become your strength for tomorrow. Congratulations!”
According to Superintendent Niesz, Bayonne is now looking into possible in-person ceremonies in July and will make the decision by the beginning of the month.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.