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The pandemic has led many schools to get creative when it comes to their graduation ceremonies, and Kean University in New Jersey is doing just that by celebrating the Class of 2021 with 10 separate in-person ceremonies.
- Since last year, so many students from preschoolers to those studying for advanced degrees have been out of classrooms and off campuses. Even graduations have been virtual. But today in New Jersey, one university celebrating their graduates with an in-person commencement. New Jersey reporter Toni Yates showed us how they pulled it off safely.
TONI YATES: By any means possible, Kean University is pulling off in-person graduations--
- You are truly an exceptional group.
TONI YATES: --for the class that a pandemic failed to derail.
LAMONT REPOLLET: And we have our largest class today, over 300-some students graduating today. We have a total of 10 graduations over 4 days [INAUDIBLE]. so today is an exciting day for us. We're just proud because it's a celebration.
TONI YATES: It's been quite a year.
NIKKI KORDOMENOS: It was a tough semester. It really was. But I'm so proud of all of us. We all pushed through. We did it. We gave it our all.
ALENIS BAEZ: Definitely stressful. Very supportive group. We've all really learned how to work with one another. So it's just a great experience, given the circumstances.
TONI YATES: And they made it with enthusiasm.
- I did it!
KATHERINEHARRINGTON: In-person graduation, feeling very blessed to be able to have that, because I know not everyone was able to. Yeah, very excited. I'm very excited to be here.
- It's very like exciting. And be able to just feel really uplifted just to walk.
SAMUEL ROYSTER: It felt like yesterday, I was doing Kindergarten. And all of a sudden, now I'm wearing this, and this, and this. And it's also surreal.
KENYA SILAS: We were talking about this moment for a long time. And because of the pandemic, we weren't sure how things were going to happen. But I thank God that we're all here today with our families to celebrate this very special moment in all of our lives.
TONI YATES: Some of their caps said it best. And hundreds of mask-wearing, social-distant loved ones here to applaud the students--
TONI YATES: --and the school.
LAMONT REPOLLET: And I think today just brings a sense of normalcy back to a chaotic, unprecedented year. And today is a celebration. Congratulations.
TONI YATES: At [INAUDIBLE], Toni Yates, Channel 7 Eyewitness News.
- That's great news. Congratulations to those graduates.