NHS Class of 2020’s Unique Graduation
Photos and story by Alexis Mercer
Even as late as March of this year, a drive through graduation to culminate their years of hard work was not on the radar for the Class of 2020. But as Covid-19 escalated into a more grave situation as days and weeks went by, having any sort of acknowledgement that the class was officially done with their high school years was looking less and less likely.
With the prospect of a formal graduation ceremony on the football field completely out of the question, Newaygo Public School administrators and senior class advisers began to brainstorm how to make the would-have-been night something that the seniors would at least remember for years to come, even if it wasn’t what they’d always thought it would be.
What ended up taking place was a joyous, special evening for all graduates. Their senior photos were made into posters, which lined Barton Street and began the “Graduate Parade”. While the seniors were not allowed to get out of their cars, they filed into four lines in their vehicles to turn in their books and computers and to pick up documents and a care package from the staff.
Jennifer Grugett, Senior Class Adviser, Brad Reyburn, Principal, Craig Thompson, Assistant Principal, Peggy Mathis, Superintendent, and others spent hours planning, organizing, then re-planning and re-organizing as the requirements for what the night could entail changed with orders from the State.
Tabatha Lathrop was the staff member who organized the signs made that were lining the street, which were printed by Special Tees and Graphics and paid for by parents and also through the MSU college advising corps. Taylor Hills, Theresa Westcott, and Lyn Shoemaker all helped put the packets together for the students. The Harkness family donated wristbands for every student. Leilani San Nicholas Foster made and donated a car decal for every senior. Myles Cronk came to take photos and use a drone to catch the view from above. The police department and fire department donned the parking lot with lights and cheers. Senior Adviser Jen Grugett said of the night “I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all their smiling faces for the first time in months. It went by so fast!”
Some students decorated their cars with words, balloons, signs, and streamers. A group of students had come to decorate the parking lot with chalk art earlier in the day (socially distanced drawings) making the view even more special. “Although I’m sad that we didn’t get to experience walking across the stage, it was uplifting to see the overwhelming support of the community. And I enjoyed seeing teachers and classmates that I haven’t seen in months,” said Sophia Frisbie.
While the Class of 2020 did not get to walk across the stage (yet…though they are hoping for a formal graduation ceremony July 30) on May 21st to officially recognize their achievements, the staff and administration of Newaygo Public Schools worked hard to make sure they had a memory to add to their list of firsts in this unprecedented time.