Nearly two months after their regularly-scheduled graduation date, seniors and their families filed into the parking lot facing the stadium. A giant movie screen sat off to the right of a stage where each graduate would pick up their diploma. Each senior was allowed to bring one carload of family members and, rather than sitting with their classmates, graduates stayed with their families until it was their turn to walk across the stage. It wasn’t exactly what the Class of 2020 wanted, but it definitely was unique and one graduation ceremony people will talk about for years to come.
“I appreciate all this. It’s different. It feels kind of strange, but it’s nice to have this final end,” said Holly Bashore.
“The Rona Didn’t Stop Me” was painted on the top of one senior’s cap. The message was clear. This class overcame huge obstacles when their senior year was cut short without warning and they still face many unknowns.
Senior classmate Andrew Tuokkola opened the unique ceremony reminding the class they have already overcome so much – the Polar Vortex, mosquitoes carrying diseases and even this continuing pandemic. He said he’s confident the class is prepared for whatever comes next.
Audrey Johnson gave the senior class address telling her 230 classmates, “This is just the beginning of our journey. Take one step at a time and make every moment count. Cherish every moment…I’m confident we will make a positive impact on the world. We will be the change…If anyone can do it, it is us.”
“We have already gone down in the history books. Now let’s go out and do good things,” she said.
High school Principal Tony Petersen also welcomed the drive-in crowd tuned in to a radio station in their vehicles. “None of us could have imagined it would end this way,” he said of the senior year without a prom, without public honors and awards, without last days of school. “You have remained strong in your character and grit and your community rallied around you all.”
Holly Bashore introduced TKHS English teacher Tricia Rickert as the keynote speaker. Rickert said she accepted the challenge and reputation this class brought with them the day they entered high school. Now, she said, she wanted to challenge them as they leave high school. “Use your passion and make the world a better place. You voice matters,” she said.
She also challenged the class members to continue questioning things. “Nothing changes if we don’t question things. Be real and be honest.”
She also reminded the graduates that many more struggles will come their way and reminded them it’s OK to ask for help and it’s good to give help as well. Her last challenge for the class was to keep their fun-loving spirit and energy alive. “This is a class that loves to have fun. Keep that going always.”
After awarding diplomas Zane Walters offered closing remarks and Ashley Snyder led the class in the tassel ceremony. Horns honked and throughout the parking lot seniors tossed their caps in the air in one final senior tradition.
Petersen asked the class to take their grit, perseverance and passion into the world to make positive changes. And he reminded them, no matter where they go, they always have a home at TK. “You will always be a TK Trojan.”