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Bug Off! Flying Pests Sting South Jersey Graduation

The fields behind Lumberton Middle School, where the July 8 graduation was originally planned. Photo Credit: Google Maps
Lumberton Middle School Photo Credit: Google Maps

First, it was the coronavirus outbreak that delayed graduation ceremonies at a South Jersey school and just about everywhere else statewide.

Then, a second natural disaster tangled with one school's graduation plans: A swarm of insects, Burlington County officials said.

There was an 11th-hour surprise: A sudden swarm of unidentified bugs threatened Lumberton Middle School's class of 130 students from walking across a stage to get their diploma on Wednesday.

The school district’s pest managers warned it could take 72 hours to eliminate the pesky swarm.

A strategic switch led to a happy bug-free ceremony -- with no more delays -- at Ashbrook Elementary School, also within the Lumberton Township School District. Parents were sent emails about the last-minute venue change on Tuesday.

“We went outside to mark up the field... in preparation for (graduation), we noticed there was a large swarm of bugs out there. We can only speculate that the storms from before maybe brought that up,” Principal Budd Wrigley told New Jersey Advance Media.

Students could bring two guests apiece, and the event was live-streamed online.  

“Why would it be easy in the end, right? It’s one of those things, we had to look at it and say this is the best option we have. . . . We went with it," Wrigley told 

Under Murphy’s executive orders, New Jersey schools must hold graduations outdoors and adhere to social distancing rules. 

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