Adair County High School 2020 graduates are feeling loved.
After their senior year and typical graduation became unavailable due to the coronavirus, the community set out to give them that special recognition.
“Senior year ending this way has definitely been hard, but I feel like our community has done a great job trying to make up for it,” said ACHS senior Lauren Grant.
On Monday, Adair County Judge Executive Gale Cowan and Columbia Mayor Pam Hoots declared May 18-22 as Senior Week.
“It was really touching for me that next week was declared senior week and all of the stuff that the community is going to be doing for seniors,” said ACHS senior Walker Karnes. “It made me feel supported whereas it could be easy to feel forgotten during this weird time.”
Senior week includes an unconventional graduation for ACHS.
From May 20 through May 22, a handful of guests can watch their graduate walk across the stage and receive their diploma and other awards during an appointed time. Each senior’s walk across the stage will be videoed and compiled with each other to form one large graduation video.
All seniors, including the senior class officers, were asked for input and advice on graduation plans.
“Due to the restrictions COVID-19 has on what we could do, this way of graduating was our best option,” said Senior Class President Kiley Feese. “It means a lot that the school is doing all the things to give us recognition and celebrate us that they can. They have been limited by many boundaries yet they are doing everything they can to make our year special.”
Graduation won’t have a room full of people to experience it with, but Karnes isn’t worried about that.
“It will still be special because I’ll have the people I love there with me.”
Beginning Monday, signs with senior portraits will be lined along Indian Drive and there will also be a drive-by recognition of senior spring sports athletes from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. that evening. Viewers can drive up Indian Drive by the baseball and softball fields, tennis courts and ACHS for track to recognize the seniors of those sports standing there.
Tuesday is Indian Day in Adair County and the community is invited to wear red, white and blue and decorate their homes and businesses to show support for the class of 2020.
That night at 6 p.m. there will be a senior parade, where seniors will be led through town by first responders. The parade will begin at ACHS, travel through Greensburg Street, around the square to Jamestown Street, down Tutt Street, over to Hudson Street and back to ACHS.
Though next week is big for seniors, the spotlight on them began several weeks back when Andrea Waggener decided to create yard signs for the homes of seniors.
Waggener is also behind the signs with senior portraits on Indian Drive.
“It started off as a way to do something – anything,” said Waggener. “I talked with ACHS counselor Ann Young and Lee Grider from Trifecta Print to figure out a way to pay tribute to this senior class. From there, it was easy. Our community met the first donation goal in less than 24 hours and it took less than 48 hours to double it for the second round of signs.”
Waggener said that Trifecta Print was great to work with for the signs and was only reimbursed for their costs.
“Our daughter Emma has been part of this class. It has definitely affected our family. We’ve seen her struggle with being so excited about being a senior and then the let down with the pandemic. Being able to help in some small way to honor these kids that have worked so hard really meant a lot to us,” said Lee Grider of Trifecta Print.
Seniors are also getting gifts from the community through an “Adopt-a-senior” Facebook page, where information about a senior’s personality, hobbies and future plans can be posted and then a volunteer can “adopt” the senior and gift them something special.
Karnes received a basket full of University of Kentucky items and candy, which he thought was really great.
There is also the option to leave messages of support and congratulations to seniors through their own website at www.achs.commencementreimagined.com.
“With all of the posts, yard signs, senior adoptions and everything else, I think they’ve made us all feel loved,” said Grant.
By Anna Buckman