May 18, 2020
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High schools find creative ways to celebrate their seniors

COVID-19 dashed many graduation celebrations. Thankfully, principals and students found alternate ways to mark the occasion.

Many graduation ceremonies happened remotely, but some high school administrators were able to get creative. Photo by Mohammad Shahhosseini/Unsplash

The class of 2020 is experiencing a final semester unlike any other. The coronavirus pandemic has forced schools to cancel the events that make a high school senior’s final months so memorable: proms, pep rallies, spring musicals, and now, graduation.

Since most seniors won’t get a chance to walk across the stage this year, principals and school administrators are planning alternative ways to celebrate their seniors. And high school students themselves are using their new free time to lend a helping hand to others.

Below, we’ve gathered a few stories of folks who’ve come up with creative and memorable ways to bring joy to their communities and school districts.

  • In Vanceboro, North Carolina, Principal Tabari Wallace celebrated his graduating students by holding a personal parade for each of his 220 seniors, all in one day. “I was powerless to fight this pandemic and the ensuing laws that followed. That’s why I went all out—so they could cherish this moment, so they will have a life memory of something good from the second part of their senior year,” Wallace told Route Fifty. He also presented each senior with congratulatory lawn signs bearing their photos and gave speeches honoring them.
  • To recognize her 30 graduating seniors, Principal Farica West of Poplar Springs School in Graceville, Florida, lined up their portraits along the school’s road. “They’re missing a lot of the memorable moments that we all hold near and dear to our hearts throughout our whole lives,” said West of her students.
  • Principal Matt Wright of Apex Friendship High School in Apex, North Carolina, commemorated graduating students with a video tribute, He hand wrote all 590 students’ names with permanent marker on a blank wall inside the school. Signs with the senior’s names also lined the school yard, and when the seniors arrived to see it, their teachers cheered them on.
  • A group of high school seniors in Montezuma, Indiana, are trading in their textbooks for medical scrubs and lending a hand to local nursing homes. Morgan Adams, one of the seniors working as a certified nursing assistant, told RTV6, a local news channel in Indianapolis, “I’m going there for a reason and helping out anyway that I can, and it makes me feel better and like I accomplished something.”
  • A principal in South Fulton, Georgia, made sure his seniors wouldn’t be forgotten by showcasing their photos on billboards throughout South Fulton and Atlanta for four weeks. Principal Jamar Robinson told 11 Alive, “We knew we had to do something huge to make up for that they are still recognized and still loved so you drive up and down the streets and you see these gigantic billboards highlighting everything. Our students up there as well.”
Danielle Moskowitz

Danielle Moskowitz

Danielle Moskowitz is a contributor to The Renewal Project