IRVINGTON, NJ — Just like seniors everywhere, Irvington High School seniors have had to sacrifice the remnants of their final year of high school due to closures prompted by the coronavirus outbreak. When schools closed their doors in March, students hoped they would return before the end of the school year. But in April it was announced that the school buildings would remain closed.
No different from other towns, Irvington has been brainstorming ways to honor the high school’s Class of 2020 graduates, especially as the students have persevered in their studies despite the many setbacks.
Approximately four weeks ago, Irvington Mayor Tony Vauss and other members of the Irvington community came up with an idea.
“This was a partnership between the mayor, the Irvington Municipal Council, the Irvington Board of Education, the superintendent of schools and the principal of Irvington High School,” Vauss said on June 22.
Identifying how tough this situation was on graduating seniors, the community wanted to do something special.
“We wanted to do something for our children here in town to let them know how proud we are of them and how much we appreciate them for finishing high school,” Vauss said. “We know that they have a tremendous future in front of them, and we want to send them out the best way we could considering we are in the midst of COVID-19 and the schools are closed.”
With approximately 395 students graduating in the Class of 2020, the Irvington lawn signs are plastered all over the grounds of the Irvington High School campus and neighboring areas, such as the library property across the street and 1 Civic Square.
According to Irvington High School Principal Oge Denis Jr., the municipality and the high school actually made two separate batches of lawn signs for the graduating seniors.
“The Irvington municipality made lawn signs with each student’s picture, the year of graduation and the congratulatory Class of 2020 message. The high school made lawn signs for the graduating class, and we did it one week beforehand,” Denis said. “We had Senior Day on Thursday, which culminated with the lawn signs and students receiving their senior packages. Their senior packages included the yearbook, class rings, etc.”
Denis is appreciative of everything the town has done for the students.
“Starting with the Board of Education and the leadership of our superintendent, April Vauss, and faculty and staff of Irvington High School, we feel a large sense of gratitude,” Denis said on June 23. “Not only is the school and district behind them but also, the community at large is behind them as well. We work together as one team, and the focus is that we educate each student at a time to build a stronger community. We appreciate the support of the Irvington municipality working together in support of our students. We just really feel supported, and we love helping our students feel valued and appreciated. That’s really the essence of it.”
Photos Courtesy of Tony Vauss