From Social-Distance Proms To Social Media Salutes: Celebrating The "Coronavirus" Class of 2020
See how communities are thinking outside-the-box when it comes to acknowledging the achievements of this year's seniors.
Just about twenty years ago, I was gearing up for my high school graduation. While it seems like ancient history now, I can remember the flurry of activities at school: pep rallies, meetings with college counselors, shopping with friends for a prom dress.
I remember the nervous excitement I felt as the last day of school approached. This is it, I remember thinking. The last time I'll walk the halls of the school, or have the last bite of mediocre pizza in the school cafeteria.
Then, there was the mix of pride, happiness, relief and nerves I felt on the day of the school's commencement ceremony– and the feeling of joy that washed over me as we flung our graduation caps in the air at the end.
"Congratulations Class of 2000," I remember the valedictorian saying. "You did it!"
Even though the photo is blurry, I clearly remember celebrating with my family after my graduation ceremony in 2000.
Sadly, due to Covid-19 forcing schools to remain closed for the rest of the academic year, the class of 2020 won't get to make those same memories.
That's why some schools are making an extra effort to make sure their seniors are recognized, even if the celebrations look much different than those of past years.
Many communities are holding Senior Day parades, where families stay in their cars to keep a safe social distance.
One school in Bay St. Louis, Miss. is planning a drive-in commencement ceremony. Their plan is to have a fleet of Jeeps take seniors and their families to the high school parking lot where they'll stay inside of their parked cars for the ceremony.
The administration, valedictorian and salutatorian will make announcements and speeches from the stadium's press box where they'll be broadcast on public radio so that families sitting in their cars can hear them.
After the speeches and announcements, students will individually visit a viewing area where they'll receive their diplomas and a baseball hat in place of a traditional graduation cap.
Then, the seniors will get back in their vehicles and go to another parking area where tents will be set up for each individual student that families can decorate with their achievements.
Another trend we're seeing is schools lighting up their sports stadiums to honor the class of 2020.
The schools' athletic directors are leading the effort on social media and sharing videos with the hashtag #BeTheLight.
Tonight at 8:20 we light up the stadium for 20 minutes to honor the Class of 2020. Thank you for all you have broug… https://t.co/A1qjNQKxKL— Wyoming Athletics (@Wyoming Athletics)1586823246.0
"Last Thursday I reached out to a few conference presidents and commissioners, hoping to get the ball rolling," Athletic Director Scott Kaufman of Cincinnati, OH said of the campaign. "Those who have done it have gotten pretty good hits in it through social media. I think kids like it."
Another trend that has been circulating over social media is people posting their old senior pictures in solidarity with this year's graduating class.
While it's a sweet enough gesture, the Better Business Bureau and others are advising folks to use caution when sharing their personal information so that cybercriminals can't use it against them. Some of the throwbacks are pretty funny, though!
One of the biggest events that students are missing out on is senior prom. A group of friends in Mooresville, IN actually held a 'driveway prom' where they each wore their fancy dresses and danced by themselves to music in their driveways.
"It was nice to see everybody happy in this awful time. And a lot of our friends were really excited about it, so it was like relief from all this coronavirus and stuff that's happening," Carly Even, one of the students who participated in the prom, said.
After the "driveway prom" the students put together a video to share with their classmates on social media...
While we're sure missing out on these milestone events isn't easy, it's refreshing to see that communities nationwide are coming up with ways to celebrate their seniors. If one thing is for sure, it will be a time in the students' lives that they'll never forget!