My wife's cousin's daughter is a member of the Class of 2020 at Barnegat High School. She was just one of the thousands of students across the states that lost the end of their school year, lost their prom, and lost their normal graduation ceremony. While the battle was fought between parents and schools versus Governor Murphy, the outcomes ranged from no ceremonies to virtual ones to drive-thrus, and finally "socially distant" ones.

My wife's cousin invited us to the ceremony, as the school allowed groups with a maximum of 25 to be there. It was a little strange, and honestly, it seemed like no one knew exactly what the rules were, and we were all just sort of following each other's lead. Our graduate, Katie, and her parents went into the school to sign in, then we all walked from the school to the football field. There was one family leaving as we were walking up, and another walked up as we left, and that was really the only interaction outside of our family we had.

There was a simple stage with some balloons and a Bengal tiger statue, with a photographer/videographer set up in front. Katie posed for a picture, then took the walk across the stage and waved to the "crowd". None of us really knew what to do, and one of the cousins asked if we could cheer. The photographer said we definitely could, but none of it would show up on the video. They were actually going to take all of the footage, cut out the ambient noise, pipe in "Pomp and Circumstance", dub in a voice-over reading each grad's name, and edit it all together. Once Katie made her walk, complete with a perfect princess wave, we were able to take our own pictures. She posed by herself, with her parents, with her brothers, with her cousins, and with all of us. We wrapped up our time, and headed home.

Honestly, it might have been the best graduation ceremony I've ever been to. I remember my own high school graduation, sitting through speech after speech, the sun beating down on my mortarboard, my friend Mike even fell asleep sitting up. My last name puts me near the end of the alphabet, so even at my sister's graduation, we had to sit through however many other kids before we got 5 seconds to cheer and scream for her. Being able to do a quick, simple celebration with the person we were there to see was perfect. I get that the students want to be with their friends, but from a family perspective, this was great.

Congratulations to Katie, and the entire Class of 2020!

Barnegat High School's 'Socially Distant Graduation'

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