The signs of support for the TKHS Class of 2020 were everywhere. The stadium scoreboard was lit up with the numbers 20:20 in the time and score. Surrounded by a sea of senior yard signs, the high school electronic sign near the road reminded the class “You are TK Strong.”
Still, it was no doubt a bittersweet day. Seniors smiled and waved from their vehicles, they honked their horns and decorated their vehicles with “Class of 2020,” “TK Strong” and even “Sad Grad.” They were greeted with cheers, waves, and smiles from behind protective masks by a few TKHS staff members and administrators helping disperse the graduation items. The TK Trojan mascot delivered the items to each vehicle – safely placing the items in the trunk or back seat.
High School Principal Tony Petersen said it was great to see the seniors again even if he could only talk to them for a few minutes as he stood a safe distance from the open windows of their vehicles. “I needed this and I think they needed it too,” he said. “I miss seeing these kids.”
TK Senior Cora Siuda and her mom, Ann, parked their vehicle near the middle school where Cora stood up through the sunroof holding a sign for all the graduates to see as they came by. Because the caps and gowns were being distributed in three groups alphabetically, Cora’s group would be the last to receive theirs. She and her mom decided they could either sit home and wait their turn or go and support the other seniors.
They both admitted this was a hard time. Ann, admitting she’s cried more than a few tears for her daughter and her classmates, said this isn’t how she envisioned her youngest child finishing high school. But she said she encourages her daughter and all the seniors to make memories now even if they aren’t the memories they thought they would have to share for years to come.
Cora said it’s hard for her too, but she’s looking forward to college in the fall at Northern Michigan University. The sign on her vehicle reads “The Only Way to Go from Here is U.P.”
Senior twins Nate and Clair Jansma rode with a family member so they could take in the entire experience. After pulling into the parking lot, Nate popped up through the sunroof with a giant Middleville Trojan flag waving all around. They honked and cheered as their mom, Sharon Jansma, took a break from helping hand out packets to greet them.
Seniors Emma Bainbridge and Kenzie McManus got creative with their vehicle decorations. Emma secured a huge piece of circular cardboard made to look like a giant roll of toilet paper on the roof of her vehicle with the messagae "Just Roll With It - Grad 2020." Behind her, Kenzie strapped a cardboard toilet on the front grill of her car.
Many seniors decorated their vehicles with balloons, wrote their names and proudly displayed “Class of 2020” on the windows. Some added pictures, smiley faces and more than one added “Sad Grad.” One drew two toilet paper rolls with “2020” on them and another wrote an encouraging message - “Miss Rona Won’t Stop Us.”
A special message, attached to a gift bag from the TKHS staff, also showed the seniors love and support. The card reads:
“Remember, circumstances do not define your legacy or your success. Both are defined by your response to those circumstances. Continue to build your legacy and leave a positive mark on the world around you. Stay TKSTRONG.
You are not forgotten. You are loved!
– TKHS Staff”