Students in LRHSD to get diplomas delivered to their doorsteps, sets graduate date

Seniors in the Lenape Regional High School District learn of their diplomas and a graduation date.

The American and Defy the Issue flags fly at half-staff at the Lenape Regional High School District Administration Building in Shamong following an executive order from Gov. Phil Murphy for all flags on publicly-owned properly to fly in such a manner, honoring the 6,000-plus New Jersey lives lost due to the novel coronavirus. As of deadline, at least 10 people in the Lenape Region have lost their lives due to the virus (Krystal Nurse/The Sun).

The Lenape Regional High School District (LRHSD) is making the best of the situation amid the emergency restrictions that remain in place by planning a “Diploma to Door” event for the class of 2020.

A member of the LRHSD administration will visit each senior’s home who elects to participate between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on June 16 — the originally planned graduation date for the class of 2020.

This large-scale effort will ensure that the approximately 1,650 LRHSD graduates from Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca and Shawnee High Schools will have an opportunity receive a diploma along with personal recognition of their accomplishment.

During the “Diploma to Door” graduation, school administrators will take necessary and appropriate safety measures, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), will place a pre-bagged diploma at the graduate’s door and then step six feet away.

Graduates, who will also be required to wear PPE, may come outside for a photo, but must maintain social distancing boundaries with LRHSD staff members. Families who wish to participate in the diploma delivery will also be reminded that no large gatherings are permitted in connection with this event.

Noting the tremendous efforts which went into planning this event, Superintendent Carol Birnbohm, Ed.D. said “I am overwhelmed by the level of support and advocacy from the officials who reviewed and supported our plans.

“Specifically, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina, Evesham Chief of Police Christopher Chew and Medford Chief Richard Meder were instrumental in ensuring our plans meet the requirements of various executive orders and directives issued by the state. Their support, along with that of Chief Robert Dugan of Medford Lakes Borough, Chief Stephen Riedener of Mt. Laurel Township, and Lt. Richard Gilman, NJSP station commander, demonstrates how everyone understands the importance of recognizing this exciting milestone for a high school senior, and that graduation is a community event.” 

“Our seniors deserve a celebration to help them move on and prepare for their next phase in life, and we will do our best to make this transition as positive and memorable as possible,” said Birnbohm. “I also want to applaud the principals in their efforts to make the Diploma to Door a personal and special way to show our dedication and commitment to our seniors and their families.” 

The LRHSD plan to deliver diplomas was developed in anticipation of restrictions to traditional graduations, which eventually came from the New Jersey Department of Education on May 8 with the mandate that “only virtual graduation ceremonies can be planned at this time.” However, the LRHSD is keeping open the possibility of a more traditional graduation ceremony over the summer, if circumstances allow.

“As we have seen, directives and guidance regarding limitations on gatherings and events have been changing frequently,” Birnbohm said. “We have not yet given up hope on celebrating our graduates with some form of traditional commencement ceremony.” 

The LRHSD has set aside Thursday, July 16, at 7 p.m. for a graduation ceremony. As the date nears, the LRHSD will advise if an in-person graduation ceremony is permitted, or if a virtual ceremony will be broadcast instead. 

In addition to the events noted above, Birnbohm added that the LRHSD and its surrounding communities will be invited to honor seniors in various ways in the coming month. More information on those opportunities will be communicated as they are confirmed in the weeks ahead.