PARMA, Ohio (WJW)— Coronavirus forced school districts to rethink how to celebrate the achievements of graduating seniors.
Solon City Schools and the Parma City School District announced graduation parades this month for the class of 2020 as a safe alternative to traditional festivities.
“We, too, regret the creative means that we’re having to go to to celebrate our seniors,” said Charles Smialek, Parma superintendent.
The school district is planning three celebration parades beginning next week for each high school.
“We have 900 graduates between our three high schools, breaks down to about 300 per school,” Smialek said.
There’s a similar plan to mark the milestone in Solon. Acting superintendent Fred Bolden said a pomp and circumstance graduation parade will be held on May 28.
“This is something where all of our seniors, all 415 of them come, together at our school and they will parade in their cars with their parents around our campus with the teachers creating a tunnel of cheering and well wishes, which will culminate at the end where they will receive their diplomas,” Bolden said.
Both district leaders agree a parade is the safest way to gather while still celebrating with family.
“We’re really putting a lot of faith and trust in our students here. We want to do something that does honor them and is special, but we have to ask them to stay in their cars and to keep social distancing protocols in mind,” Smilaek said.
The memorable moment is so special to one Painesville mother she spearheaded efforts to plan an upcoming graduation parade for her son’s class with help from police and parents. The parade is not affiliated with the school district.
“It was devastating, just truly devastating,” said Julie Chappell, thinking about her son not being able to experience a celebration.
“They can decorate their cars, school appropriate of course, with signs and banners and balloons so that their families, relatives and the Painesville community can celebrate them,” Chappell said.