SOMA To Celebrate LGBTQI+ Youth With A Lavender Graduation

As part of annual June Pride Month Celebrations across SOMA and Essex County, the Township of Maplewood and South Orange are again partnering with SOMSD and community partners to present SOMA Lavender Graduation 2021 to be held in person and virtually on June 3, 2021 at 6:30pm in the Columbia High School Auditorium in Maplewood. Special guests to be announced.

This year’s Lavender Graduation celebration will also include the option for previous 2020 graduates to join with our 2021 graduates to be recognized for their achievements since the event last year was cancelled due to the pandemic. Any graduating 2021 high school senior or *was a previous 2020 graduate that lives in South Orange or Maplewood may register to attend.

“We want to celebrate and honor the hard work and successes of our LGBTQI+ Youth during Pride Month which honors the history and recognizes the many contributions of LGBTQIA+ persons in our society,” says Township of Maplewood Deputy Mayor Dean Dafis.

“Visibility matters. It can change lives. It can save lives. Showing LGBTQIA+ youth that their lives matter by creating inclusive welcoming affirming spaces in our schools and communities and honoring and celebrating the experiences of our youth, increases acceptance and lets them know they are not alone,” says South Orange Maplewood Board of Education First Vice President, Shannon Cuttle.

Lavender Graduation is an annual ceremony held in many schools and communities across the country to honor and celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer, asexual, intersex and allied students, and to acknowledge their achievements and contributions in school and community. The first SOMA Lavender Graduation was held in 2018 and marked the first known township and public school district celebration of such in New Jersey. The first Lavender Graduation ceremony was originally founded at the University of Michigan in 1995.

What Happens at Lavender Graduation?

LGBTQIA+ and allied high school senior students that register will be acknowledged with a certificate and either rainbow honor cords or a rainbow tassel. This year for 2021, the ceremony will be held in person and virtually.

What are the requirements to apply for SOMA Lavender Graduation?
Must be a Maplewood or South Orange resident and a 2021 high school graduating senior or *was a 2020 high school graduate. Does not have to be a SOMSD student.

I am a graduating high school senior. How can I register?
Please complete the google doc application at the link below.

Please note that registration will close on May 23, 2021.
Further details will be sent out once registration is complete. For further questions please contact Ana De Archuleta, Director, Division of Arts and Culture Township of Maplewood.

Can the public attend?
Yes, we encourage the community to come out in support of our Lavender Graduates! Masks must be worn and follow social distancing and state mandates.

Township of Maplewood Deputy Mayor, Dean Dafis
Village of South Orange Trustee, Bob Zuckerman
South Orange Maplewood Board of Education President, Thair Joshua
South Orange Maplewood Board of Education First Vice President,
Shannon Cuttle
South Orange Maplewood School District Superintendent, Dr. Ronald Taylor
Columbia High School Principal, Frank Sanchez
CHS Spectrum Club
Township of Maplewood PRIDE Committee

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