BY D’ARCY EGAN
Local high schools are celebrating the graduating Class of 2020 in decidedly unique fashion this year, with commencement exercises that Superintendent Guy Parmigian of Oak Harbor High School on Sunday praised as “history-making” in a social video Monday morning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the face of the traditional commencement exercises, forcing the elimination of the crowds of graduating students and their parents, teachers and friends.
Oak Harbor’s seniors and school board members wore masks and gloves as they gathered on Sunday in the school’s parking lot while social distancing for their outdoor commencement ceremony. Family and friends could not attend, but they did line the village streets along the post-ceremony parade route in order to applaud the graduates.
Danbury High School’s seniors gathered in the school’s parking lot early on Sunday afternoon as well, arriving in decorated cars and trucks. Led by the Danbury Township Police Department and joined by the Lakeside-Marblehead Fire Department trucks and EMS vehicles, with horns blaring and lights flashing, they enjoyed a parade around the Marblehead Peninsula.
Waving to families and friends in front yards along the way, the seniors were recognized for their hard work during a school year that was unlike any other schools around Ohio and the country had experienced.
Port Clinton School District Superintendent Patrick Adkins will salute his Class of 2020 on Wednesday, May 27, which would have been the student’s last day of school. The tradition of parading through the streets of the city after their last classes, honking their car horns and cheering, is being replaced by the parade — keeping in mind social distancing, of course.
Port Clinton school officials are hoping the postponed commencement ceremony on May 30 can be held on Saturday, June 27.
Port Clinton Band Director Rod Miller’s heart-warming message on social media had to replace his 14th annual salute to senior band members, which included giving each of his senior band members a rose at the popular Sousa Concert.
“Since that night isn’t happening, I wanted to show my appreciation and love,” wrote Miller. “I’ll miss all of you and love you more than words can say. For now they are gone. And there are no others!”
As Governor Mike DeWine said so succinctly in his virtual address to Miami University’s Class of 2020 last weekend, “Each of you graduating today has such great opportunities ahead to be bold and take some chances on life. Along the way you will face tough, life-changing decisions. You will face disappointments and challenges and losses. But when you do, know that — sometimes — the best is yet to come!
“We will come out of this. We will be stronger. Our scientists and our business people — and among them many of today’s graduates — will be the ones to find new treatments and a vaccine and innovative and creative economic solutions.”
With loss of all the in-person graduation ceremonies around the country, the Class of 2020 was recognized last Saturday night with a nationally-televised show featuring a lineup of the famous, but more importantly, dozens of cameos from the Class of 2020 around the country.
Former president Barack Obama poked fun at his long-winded commencement speeches and how his big ears were not made for a commencement cap. He kept this address short, telling the Class of 2020 that they will have to grow up faster than usual.
Pro basketball star LeBron James, a strong supporter of education, especially in his home town of Akron, focused on building and supporting a strong community.
“Our schools are our safety net,” said James. “Our people build our comunities. To the Class of 2020, as you celebrate tonight, do not forget your safety net. Every teacher, every coach, every pastor, they along with your friends and family got you to this moment. And now, it’s time to go to a new place.”