BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Walking across the stage to get a high school diploma is a moment many people take for granted, but for the 147 seniors at Belaire Magnet High School, it is a moment that may not come due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Leaders at the school chose to honor the students with a unique surprise by lining the front lawn of the school with yard signs that feature each graduates’ senior portrait.
“When I first saw it I was like ‘wow, this is really cool’. It’s a cool idea. I really enjoyed seeing my face. We might not get the satisfaction of walking across the stage and everybody applauding us and everything but we get recognition,” said Christopher Pavon.
While the coronavirus has drastically changed so much, the one thing it cannot claim is the pride the faculty and staff here have for this group of graduates.
“We’re very proud of them and we’re very proud of what they’ve done to overcome these circumstances,” said Belaire High School Principal Angela Powell-Jones.
“What they’ve achieved is really really special and hopefully we were able to do a little bit of that for them today and we have some more things coming up,” the school’s librarian, April Mellad, added.
The kindness goes beyond this small gesture. The school purchased each one of the students’ caps and gowns and say they do still plan to have a ceremony. If that is not able to happen, they wanted to make sure each of them realizes they are loved.
“Hopefully they feel that love,” Mellad added.
The school’s alumni association is also stepping up to launch an adoption program where former Belaire Bengals can continue to shower the seniors with appreciation.
“Whatever they feel within their heart they want to accomplish and be able to support that senior. We’re not trying to specify anything but just show love to them,” said alumni president, Byron Turner.
As the school year comes to an abrupt and uncertain close, it is about more than the usual pomp and circumstance.
“It’s really a life lesson,” said Pavon. “You’re going to have bumps and bruises but you always have to overcome and just move on. You have to keep going on with your life and just be the best you can.”
It serves as a final lesson of perseverance administrators hope will go with each one of the seniors wherever their path leads.
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