Retro RFH ‘Pomp & Circumstance’ Street Walk

RFH Class of ’78 graduation
Photo/courtesy of Nancy Welchel

The last time capped and gowned RFH grads were lining the street was more than four decades ago when the Class of ’78 graduated on the front lawn of the high school.

It wasn’t the usual Pomp and Circumstance walk, but it was certainly memorable. The 314 grads of ’78 lined up outside, coming from the auditorium entrance. They walked, and some mischievously tumbled and pranked, from the parking lot, down Ridge Road, through the Daisy Chain and onto the lawn, facing the school and tower, and the ceremony began … and ended … where the grads first entered and came to know their high school.

The real reason for the walk down Ridge and front lawn ceremony was a Borden Stadium revamp. In actuality, or retrospect, the grads and parents liked it. A lot. It made that graduating class unique and, hey, they were front and center by the tower. Symbolic.

While the walk seemed like an awfully long one, the grads, on their way, were a bit hidden — enough to raise their own pre-diploma, tassel-moving and cap-tossing ruckus.

This was the stuff that had gotten many a grad kicked out of “the walk.” Once they started filing by the audience, the orderly group of teens was humiliatingly bombarded by a string of pop-up parents, waving, hollering and snapping photos with their Instamatics. I know. I was there. And I was one of the “humiliated” now treasuring the memory of Dad embarrassing me with, “Hey, Sweetie! Over here! That’s my girl!” Call us disorderly street walkers.

But I digress …

RFH graduation venues have changed over the years, from the Borden Stadium, to that front lawn, to rain day graduations moved, to off campus at Monmouth University and now, half home on the traditional graduation night.

As the COVID era RFH grads line the streets of Rumson and Fair Haven tonight donning their caps and gowns, the fanfare parade will pass by. There will be lots of cheers for the class.

The plus: As with the turn of fate that had the Class of ’78 graduating facing their tower, for all passersby to see, the Class of 2020 will have a once-in-a-lifetime graduation parade on their own home turf. They will have, once again, taken an RFH graduation rite of passage to the streets.

Yes, they will have a graduation ceremony in July. But, this is the real hometown deal — an RFH class to remember.

Congratulations to the RFH Class of 2020 from the street-walking Class of ’78!

Many thanks to classmate Nancy Welchel for this snapshot back in RFH time!