The Jackson High School Class of 2020 held a virtual graduation in May, with each graduate being videoed receiving their diploma while their family watched.
But many still wanted a live graduation, and their wish was granted Friday, July 24. Of the 214 members of the class, 93 were able to participate in the ceremony, held at Red Devil Hill. The rest had commitments of school, work, or the military.
Graduates were required to wear masks during the ceremony, but were allowed to remove them for photos. The graduates were six feet apart from each other on the field.
Masks were recommended, but not required for families, who were asked to socially distance from each other in the stands.
Rather than marching in to the traditional “Pomp and Circumstance,” normally played by the Jackson High School Band, the graduates were already in their seats when the ceremony began. The band did not attend, nor did the Jackson High School NJROTC Color Guard. The ceremony began with the graduates and those in the stands standing and saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
Principal Will Rustin addressed the graduates, talking about all they had accomplished, especially during the last few months when COVID-19 caused drastic changes in how students were educated, and canceled many traditional spring events such as sports and prom, and postponed graduation.
Football Coach Dary Myricks recognized graduates who received scholarships.
Valedictorian Rachel Waldrop gave her address. Waldrop stated in her speech that the Class of 2020 is the “undaunted” class.
“We are a special generation because we were born in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, and now we graduate amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Waldrop said. “In other words, our generation has been defined by some of the most notorious, world-changing events; but, we did not let them deter us. We have grown and matured amid the gloom of events outside of our control; we not only survived, we have persevered, allowing nothing to stand between us and this milestone.”
Salutatorian Keiyana White was unable to be present at the graduation ceremony.
When they received their diplomas, rather than the traditional handshakes, the graduates received fist bumps from JHS Principal Will Rustin and Superintendent Dr. Todd Simpson.
The ceremony ended with the traditional turning of the tassel, signifying the earning of their diplomas, then the graduates marched off the field.
With the shortened ceremony and relatively small number of graduates attending, the ceremony took just 45 minutes to complete.