‘They’ve Earned It’: Parents, Seniors Hope New York Follows New Jersey’s Lead To Allow In-Person Graduations

Carolyn Gusoff

June 01, 2020

Originally published in CBS NY on May 29, 2020.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With New Jersey granting permission for in-person graduations in July, there’s now a push for similar action in New York.

Senior year for the class of 2020 has been historic for all the wrong reasons.

“It really affected everybody. Clubs, sports, everything,” Roslyn High School senior Troy Ross said.

“It’s been very difficult. There’s been a lot of anger, depression, anxiety amongst him and a lot of his friends. They need this. They’ve earned it,” parent Melonie Ross said.

Long Island parents and students are asking for one last moment of togetherness with live, in-person graduations.

They know it won’t look like past graduations, but through petitions and Facebook groups, they’re asking school districts for something more traditional than virtual graduations and car parades, which have creatively filled the gap.

Carle Place seniors ended their high school careers with a final emotional wave, but there’s a growing call to let students walk with classmates.

The message is getting through to educators.

“If the beaches can open safely, I feel like we can safely celebrate the seniors,” parent Amy Basel said.

Roslyn has informed parents the district is planning eight small live graduation ceremonies on the football field. Students will be able to walk with their parents or guardians, following strict social distancing rules.

In Jericho, they’re planning an in-person graduation in August if large gatherings are allowed by then.

“We are somewhat optimistic that we can do something that might be more personal than our virtual graduation,” Jericho School District Superintendent Henry Grisham said.

New York State senators have written to the governor to find a way to allow outdoor in-person graduations in July, if the coronavirus numbers continue to fall.

“That doesn’t mean every school will have an easy logistical situation, but I think that if we have the proper planning and we have some guidance, we can do it safely,” Sen. Todd Kaminsky said.

“I just want to put a smile back on my son’s face and every other senior,” Basel said.

The governor has said the numbers will dictate when large gatherings can resume.

Parents are helping to draft scenarios — no hugs, no handshakes, but a safe sendoff for the historic class of 2020.