COVID-19 guidelines call for changes to traditions

COVID-19 safety mandates called for the cancellation of time-honored CHS traditions, such as Color Wars, but led to the creation of new events in their place, like Senior Day.


COVID-19 safety mandates called for the cancellation of time-honored CHS traditions, such as Color Wars, but led to the creation of new events in their place, like Senior Day.

Isabella Ji and Nicola DeGregorio

The reach of the COVID-19 pandemic halted not at government restrictions, but extended into the daily lives of students. At CHS, this year’s remote schedule turned into a hybrid one— now evolved into a five day a week full day schedule— and while things seem to gradually become more normal at school, coveted CHS events continue to get cancelled.

Among these cancellations is the lack of a school- sanctioned junior prom. CHS Principal James Gleason explains that there was never an official junior prom at CHS; it always was a combined event for both juniors and seniors. However, due to COVID- 19 mandates earlier this year, the event was settled so that only CHS seniors were invited.

“Because of the mandates in place, prior to recently, it was just easier and easier to maintain everyone at a six feet distance,” Gleason said.

But what is even more upsetting for some students may be the cancellation of the long-held CHS tradition Color Wars: a time when students would have brought their competitive A-game to school and enjoy a return to the childlike wonder of field days past.

Senior Michael Rau of Manalapan reminisces about the joy that surrounded Color Wars, but acknowledges that the event would be hard to pull off with all the COVID-19 regulations.

“Color Wars is great, but it is what it is. Everyone should just enjoy all of the fun things that there are right now and ride it out,” said Rau. “Enjoy the end of high school now and then enjoy the beginning of college.”

With the last day of school approaching, seniors have been given the opportunity to celebrate in events such as Decisions Day, Senior Day, Senior Social (Prom), senior awards night, and an in-person graduation ceremony.

Several apparent differences between this year and last relating to the graduation ceremony includes the amount of people allowed at the event. According to Gleason, the main difference is the location.

“I think what’s different from last year is that the district did just increase the amount of guests that a graduate can bring, so it went from two to four,” said Gleason. “[Also] most graduations of CHS have happened at Monmouth University at the Pollack Auditorium or Theatre… we just have not been able to do that, especially with COVID for the last two years.”

Senior and class council member Ava Turner of Middletown is thankful to have an in person graduation, and she commended the PSFA for all of their help in making this difficult year the best it could be.

“I’m definitely glad we’re having some sort of ceremony, there’s a lot that we haven’t gotten so it’s nice to see we’ll at least have an event to acknowledge our time at CHS,” said Turner. “They [the PSFA] have been super helpful doing what they can this year.”

The PSFA organized the first ever Senior Day at CHS in hopes to make it as normal as possible by underwriting lawn signs, getting custom sunglasses, ordering Chipotle lunch, and getting a Hoffman’s ice cream truck to end the day.

“Usually seniors have a senior trip, dinner, etc., but… it was very unclear what would be permitted, so a senior day where all the seniors could get together was suggested,” said PSFA co-president Dania Bruneau. “Senior Day [ended up being] the brainchild of the senior enhancement committee made up of senior parents and senior advisors.”

As we come to the end of an atypical year, Gleason believes that the way things seem to be going leaves hope for a normal 2021-2022 school year.

“So far so good, I think that the announcements that we see coming out from Governor Murphy, … [are] a positive step to us getting back to a more normal school year,” Gleason said.