MARINE PARK – To honor its new graduates in a pandemic, the plain black gate that is usually surrounding James Madison High School is now decorated with photos of graduating seniors of the class of 2020.
Principal Jodie Cohen and her staff wanted to do something to celebrate their new graduates, especially since physical graduations are canceled because of the coronavirus. A colleague told them about what schools in other cities were doing to honor their students. And now, exactly 750 photos of teenagers wearing black and white are tied on the gate.
“We wanted the students to see how important they are,” Cohen told Bklyner. “The pictures are also randomly displayed so when they do walk over to see it, they will be looking at so many others at the same time and it will be as if they are at an event together.”
Still, Cohen misses her students and her colleagues. It’s a new time we are living in now and Cohen understands that.
“I miss the kids. They truly are the energy that makes this profession so rewarding,” she said. “I do have many opportunities each day where I ‘meet’ with them online. We have virtual town halls and clubs so it provides a remote ‘normalcy.’
The students will also be getting a virtual graduation ceremony on June 24th at 10 a.m. thanks to the James Madison Alumni Association. But for now, the graduates and their parents are excited to just walk by and see the smiling faces.
“With all the loss and suffering happening around us, it’s easy to overlook the smaller issues, like kids who won’t be able to celebrate their graduation with their friends and family,” Council Member Chaim Deutsch told Bklyner. “Madison High School found such a creative and lovely way to honor their graduating class. Principal Jodie Cohen never fails to impress me! This is a wonderful way to tell these students that their graduation matters to the school and to the entire community.”
“Congratulations to all the classes of 2020,” he continued, “and I look forward to celebrating with all the graduates when the time is right!”