Absegami Graduation Concludes With Hail Storm

The ceremony was barely complete when hail began to fall. Two people were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

GALLOWAY, N.J. - The Absegami High School Class of 2012 experienced a graduation like no other Thursday night, June 7.

The ceremony was barely complete when the gathered storm clouds, which threatened to unload on the graduation from the start, opened up.

First there was lightning. Then there was thunder. Then, there was rain, and finally hail. The remaining assembled spectators and graduates made a mad dash for their cars, under the bleachers, under school overhangs, and any other shelter that might be provided before administrators were able to open the doors to the school and let them in.

Reeds Road Elementary School was also opened, as was the Roland Rogers Elementary School gymnasium, although in the end, it wasn't needed. Galloway Police did a sweep of the school and the area to check on injuries, missing items and people reported missing.

According to Galloway Police Lt. Paul Dooner, whose son was among the graduates Thursday night, between eight and 10 injuries, mostly seizures and asthma were reported. Two people were transported to the hospital with minor injuries, according to Dooner.

The school was able to be cleared and the parking lots were empty around 8 p.m.

Project Graduation will go on as planned, according to Absegami Principal Dr. Jeri-Lynn Gatto.

"I've seen rain at graduations before," Gatto said. "I saw it coming. I knew it was going to rain. The hail was a bit of a surprise. That was not on the Weather Channel."

"It was definitely something to remember," Absegami graduate Anthony Chong said. "It's something we'll never forget."

"I knew it was going to rain," Absegami graduate Alex Barragan said. "The clouds looked like they were moving in a weird way."

The graduation began at 6 p.m. at the football stadium in front of a packed house of spectators with dark clouds approaching. The clouds stopped while Valedictorian Laura Petro and Salutatorian Danielle Smith delivered their speeches.

For a moment, it seemed as though the rain would hold off until the ceremonies ended. Administrators did their part, barely taking a breath between names and diplomas were conferred on the 437 graduates. Flashes of lightning appeared, and became more frequent as the administrators reached those with last names beginning with 'G.'

The more the thunder and lightning intensified, the quicker spectators began to file out. The announcement of a graduate's name became synonymous with spectators heading for the exit, graduates joining soon therafter.

As the storm began, one couldn't tell if the screams were directed at loved ones graduating or the thunder and lightning that appeared to be creeping ever closer.

All the names were called, and everyone received their diplomas. It was then a mad rush for the exits.

Groups of people attempted to outrace the thunder and lightning. Fear turned to disbelief as these same people began to be hit with hail.

While intense, the storm concluded quickly. Police combed the area looking for those who may have been hurt or lost, as well as missing items. The Galloway Police detail of eight officers expanded to at least 16.

Galloway EMTs, including Director of Galloway Township Ambulance Squad Michael Brandenburger, were available.

Ultimately, the storm ended, and friends and family members were able to reconnect.  While there was a sense that most escaped unharmed, some were still hit with a look of stunned disbelief.

It was a graduation like no other, and one that will not soon be forgotten.

tintonfallsretiree June 13, 2012 at 01:17 AM
"Public schools cannot select their students and must take all comers." That is the usual pathetic excuse that public school supporters use. Private schools get NO tax dollars and pay for EVERYTHING on their own. Unlike public schools that use up 66% of a tax bill and continuously whine that it's not enough. I can list every public school in the county for you and show how low their figures are compared to private. But that won't do any good with you because you clearly keep fighting the truth which is that PRIVATE IS BETTER than public and always will be! I'm sorry that my tax dollars along with me paying for private tuition isn't good enough to improve your lacking schools. I'm sorry that I got off my ass and paid for my kids to have a 10x better education. If my arguments lack logic then your's must lack logic as well as you are making the same argument as me from a different standpoint. you can't even read an article correctly. I asked for the test scores that you claim provide how public is better but you can't even do that. I wonder why??? You are complaining about my remarks when you are doing the same thing. Also take note that I wasn't the only person to say that they were completely incompetent for how they handled this. If you look above at Jimmy's remark, it pretty much matches mine. Overall it's pretty clear that we have a great difference of opinion. I ask that you recognize and respect mine in return for me doing the same. Thank You
galloway7757 June 13, 2012 at 01:41 AM
Diogenes, Just please stop commenting. You say that bostonfan93 defies logic but is using his conclusions based from his logic. What kind of sense does that make!? I also don't see in the linked fox news article where it says "some catholic schools" other than in the headline where it refers to the fact that enrollment is increasing in some cities. The article flat out states that "Students at catholic schools generally boast higher test scores and graduation rates than public schools". You clearly didn't see that. I 100% agree with bostonfan93 and his remarks on the incompetence of public school educators. I also agree with him that private is better than public. Your responses to him are nothing but contradictory commentary. So just please respect his views as he has offered to respect yours.
Diogenes June 14, 2012 at 05:34 PM
OK, 7757, I'll stop commenting on this thread, but I leave you with this information from the report by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes. The Report is titled "Multiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States", which is "the first detailed national assessment of charter school impacts" and is a longitudinal study that "covers more than 70 percent of the nations' students attending charter schools". The study found that 17% of charter schools showed academic gains significantly better than public schools; 37% of charters had worse gains than pubic schools, and 46% of charters had demonstrated "no significant difference" in achievement than public schools. These are the facts. Make up your own mind, but please consider the facts.
galloway7757 June 14, 2012 at 06:47 PM
Diogenes, You are a such an idiot. A private school is not the same as a charter school. A charter school receives public funding. A private school (such as catholic) does not receive ANY public funding. Every privately educated person would know that while a publicly educated person wouldn't.
tintonfallsretiree June 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Diogenes, This is from the Merriam Webster Dictionary: Charter School: a tax-supported school established by a charter between a granting body (as a school board) and an outside group (as of teachers and parents) which operates the school without most local and state educational regulations so as to achieve set goals. Private School: school that is established, conducted, and primarily supported by a nongovernmental agency. (WITHOUT TAX SUPPORT) I guess that this is not what the public schools teach their students. A great sign of why they are too incompetent to teach our kids.


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