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May 26, 2020 - 1:12pm

Alexander HS Class of 2020: Community hits the road to mark memorable milestone

posted by Jeanne Walton in Alexander Central Schools, news, education, COVID-19.

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In an attempt to uphold senior year traditions for their grads, Alexander Central School (ACS) officials and community members have put some wheels under their feet.

Literally, they have taken their show on the road!

In keeping with the academic year timeline, in mid-May, Shannon Whitcombe, MS/HS principal, Jason Jacobs, assistant principal, representatives from the Guidance department, and School Resource Officer Deputy Meyer, boarded a bus with Director of Transportation Shea Shreiber at the helm. They headed down the road to congratulate their Top 10 Seniors.

The group visited all their homes, presenting them with congratulations -- complete with placement certificates, numbered party hats and Silly String -- to help make this milestone a bit more memorable for each one.

Next up came a trip to visit every senior in the Class of 2020.

High school moms Lisa Lyons and Diane Steel made it their mission over the past couple of weeks to go above and beyond for this special class, and last Sunday was the crowning glory.

After successfully adopting out all of the school seniors to eager community members, overflowing gift baskets were collected for the teens. The gifts were organized, a route was mapped, a trailer loaded.  

With the help of local emergency personnel and vehicles, a convoy took to the road on the afternoon of Sunday, May 17 to create a unique moment in time for each and every senior from this small community.  

In nine hours of travel over 90 miles with 63 stops, the community lavished every 2020 ACS grad with a bevy of gifts and personalized messages.

The trip carried with it the spirit and energy of a graduation ceremony, with excitement generated by a parade of six trucks, emergency lights and sounds, and a drop for each grown kid that felt like a delivery from Santa himself!

"There’s been a great outpouring from the community, and we are so thankful,” Lyons said.

But of course, there are more traditions…a senior awards banquet, a parade and the rite of passage that is commencement.  

As for the awards banquet—maybe there won't be a literal trip for this one. One possibility in lieu of it, is fashioning a video tour down memory lane, capturing highlights for those seniors who will be honored with special scholarships and departmental awards.

The last day of school usually brings with it a parade for staff and students to travel across the campus for one final farewell.

Organizers certainly don’t want the seniors to miss out on this and are hoping that they can pull it off by having many students drive in the parade themselves. With this, they are coming up with alternatives to ensure that this district tradition takes place while respecting social-distancing guidelines.

They are confident that they will sort it out! 

The culmination of their learning to date -- graduation -- may not be possible to have on campus with social distancing. But it may be possible to have an event that approximates the real thing if everyone travels to the Silver Lake Drive-in.  

A special stage is being built at the drive-in by Perry High School. It will to accommodate interested schools and offer options for giving speeches and presenting diplomas individually— traditional elements that many school officials are excited about.

ACS representatives will likely make the decision about the commencement venue near June 1 when updates on pandemic-related reopening are released from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The school and community are obviously willing to journey to great lengths to make things special for a class like no other in our world history because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has no doubt been a very trying year for staff, students, parents and administration, as these graduates have traveled a road not taken before.

Many feel the benefit will be obvious in the end.

“It’s about the legacy they leave, when I think of how unique and special it is for the Class of 2020, they will always be remembered," Whitcombe said. "They are the first to learn from home, the first to graduate differently.

"It’s something no one will ever forget. And I’ve known them since they were 4 feet tall, they are a really special group of kids. They are resilient, if anyone can handle this, they can!”

Below, submitted photo.

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