In-person graduation to be held July 8

District finalizes date of ceremony

Ellie Kim, Managing Editor

District Superintendent Erik Gundersen said that an in-person graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020 will be held on the finalized date of July 8 with a rain date of July 9. The district’s plan to hold an in-person graduation ceremony was announced at the Board of Education’s virtual meeting on Monday, June 8.

“The whole thing about graduation is incredibly emotional, logistically difficult, and the regulations that keep fluctuating from the state cause people’s hopes to get up about a face-to-face graduation,” Gundersen said. “It’s a very challenging topic for us.”

A survey requesting feedback regarding when an in-person graduation would take place and whether or not parents should attend was sent out to the Class of 2020 and its parents on May 29.

“The survey results indicate that both students and parents really felt strongly that it was important for as many students to get together as possible,” Gundersen said. 

Some seniors participating in “Beach Week,” a student-organized week at the beach during the second week of July, have voiced their concerns regarding the date of the ceremony. 

“I want to be clear that [the summer beach week] is not a school sanctioned event by any means,” Gundersen said. “Our district does not endorse this event, we don’t recognize it, and based on what we’re hearing from parents, we’re growing increasingly concerned about some of the decisions that are being made [regarding social distancing].”

The date of the in-person ceremony will not be moved due to various summer construction plans at Pascack Valley and Pascack Hills. Construction plans involve updating heating and air conditioning, roofing on both schools, and updating the PV track. Gundersen said the district has “already compressed the construction time frame to accommodate an in-person graduation.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced via Twitter that schools could anticipate holding in-person graduation ceremonies with a 500 person limit by July 6. Gundersen said that a letter will be sent out to the Class of 2020 and its parents tomorrow regarding details about graduation. According to Gundersen, the decision to allow parents to attend will be made after the district receives more feedback from students regarding “whether or not they are able to attend graduation on the 8th or 9th.” 

“If there’s an opportunity to invite one or two parents we’re going to look into our ability to go ahead and do so,” Gundersen said. 

A graduation parade throughout Hillsdale and River Vale will take place on June 16 and a virtual ceremony video will still be provided with the graduates walking across the stage. A video containing recorded speeches from Gundersen, Interim Principal John Puccio, the valedictorian, and the salutatorian will be provided after the ceremony. 

“We recognized in the very beginning that no matter what takes place, no matter when a summer graduation takes place, there are going to be people that are upset about it,” Gundersen said.