They said it couldn’t be done; they said it shouldn’t be done.
But Ewing High Principal Ed Chmiel did it.
With the school’s traditional mid-June Cure Insurance Arena graduation lost to the pandemic, Ewing High School instituted a Family Commencement Experience for the Class of 2020, which called for eight 11-hour days of 15-minute personalized ceremonies for graduates.
“When we first came up with the plan, the assumption was that different administrators would break up the shifts so that it would not be overwhelming,” Superintendent Michael Nitti stated. “But Principal Chmiel stated that he wanted to be present for the entire endeavor, as he felt it was important for the principal to be there for each graduating senior.”
The event took place outside at Ewing High School, and featured a decorated stage borrowed from the municipality, another example of the strong shared services that exist between the township and school district.
When weather reared its ugly but inevitable head, and eight days turned into nine, and a Sunday session was added to the schedule, Principal Chmiel remained undeterred.
When the process came into an end on the afternoon of June 7th, Principal Chmiel had done it, putting in over 100 hours for the event and personally announcing the names of over 240 Ewing High School graduates.
“I didn’t think he could do it, but he did it,” District Director Harry Louth stated.
The effort certainly meant a lot to the graduating students, as posing with the socially-distanced, contact-less cardboard cutout of Principal Chmiel was a big hit for the graduates at the event and on social media.
“It certainly says a lot about his dedication and commitment to his students,” Nitti stated. “I think it was greatly appreciated by all.”
For Chmiel, it was all about the Class of 2020.
“These kids have been through a lot, so I wanted to be there for them,” he remarked. “I wasn’t home much for a couple weeks, but on the other hand, we’ve all been home an awful lot lately.”