PLAQUEMINE, La. (WAFB) - High school senior moments are the memories everyone cherishes years later, but the coronavirus became the headline for the Class of 2020.
It’s why the principal at MSA West in Plaquemine, Emily Martin, made it a point to give 73 graduating seniors some actual memories.
“We know it’s important for kids to go through that process,” said Martin. “Any awards that kids normally get when they gather with their families over a meal at school, we decided we wanted to bring to them on their front doors.”
But the school’s resource deputy, Troy Doiron, took the idea a few steps further.
“How cool would it be if we did it on a portable stage?” said Doiron. “I’m trying to give them an experience that they are missing. They get to walk onto the stage and be presented with their awards that they are missing out on.”
The idea he came up with was a stage built on a trailer that gave every senior the opportunity to “walk the stage.”
Their presence was well-known as they hit the road escorted by deputies with lights and sirens driving through the neighborhoods of Iberville Parish.
Between Thursday and Friday (April 30 and May 1), Martin, senior teachers in a car parade behind the trailer, and Iberville deputies delivered to every high school senior their awards and cap and gown one-by-one in exchange for huge smiles!
“Because this young lady was especially outstanding, I am proud to present you with your graduation cap, a gold scholar metal, a Beta cord, a Magna Cum Laude medal, and a certificate for being the senior class vice president,” said Martin.
“I didn’t expect none of that,” said Sha’Rika Arnold, a graduating senior. “I was hurt because parts of my senior year, I won’t get to accomplish, so I was hurt, but all the stuff they did for us, it’s kind of making up for it.”
“To see the smile on her face, it meant everything to me,” said Arnold’s mom, Schandalita Allen. “It gave them something to remember, something to look back on, not just the fact that COVID-19 happened and ruined everything. They actually have memories to look back on.”
“That was my stage,” said graduating senior, Taylor Duncan. “I was thinking my senior year is ruined, but with this parade and everything, it’s really nice to see all my teachers and everyone that I love very much.”
The best part was that in spite of social distancing, their families got to watch from their yards. They decorated their homes and set up tables to help make it realistic and even more memorable.
“We still want her to have that special moment as if she in front of an audience to receive the acknowledgment,” said Allen.
“It makes the little annoying things about being the principal and educator like not matter at all and it’s just warm and fuzzy all the way,” said Martin.
“It does make me feel tingly inside, but it gives me goosebumps just talking about it,” said Doiron. “I’ve grown attached to these seniors and the staff and I just want it to be memorable for them, so we’re going to make the best out of it that we can so that they can remember that even out of this bad stuff, we had something good.”
You could say it was a mission accomplished that took the COVID-19 headlines and exchanged them for everlasting memories for the Class of 2020.
“It meant that we are loved. It meant that people still care and that we are going to be okay,” said Arnold.
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