MEDFORD, Ore--- "A sweet ending to a new beginning." That is was written on a sign hanging from a St. Mary's School fence in the only empty section of the 2020 graduates' parade route.
On Thursday, the St. Mary's Class of 2020 got something they did not expect this year, graduation. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were canceled for the remainder of the year. The first thoughts that came to many people's minds were of the seniors. Traditions like senior games and proms were being taken away. Along with that, local graduation ceremonies fell by the wayside.
It certainly was not the typical graduation. There was no turning of the tassels. There was no cap throw to send the hard-working graduates into the adult world. However, there were plenty of smiles, gifts, and words of thanks.
"It just shows you how loyal and compassionate they are to us, and we are to them. It just shows you that we have a lot of pride in ourselves," said 2020 graduate Tre Foster.
Foster was describing the staff that lined the parking lot on Thursday. The staff was accompanied by a live DJ, a lot of proud parents, and plenty of confetti.
The students and parents decorated their vehicles in a nearby parking lot. They almost looked like what would be seen leaving a wedding. There were streamers and window paint on nearly every vehicle. In the space that was left by the normally rolled-up windows were the faces of graduates that were finally getting the party they deserve.
As they drove by each teacher, sirens and the sound of "Congratulations" could be heard ringing through the sky.
At the end of the line, each student was awarded a cap and gown, a yearbook, and a bag of gifts.
The whole process did not last long in comparison to a normal graduation ceremony, but the community of teachers did the best with what they have.
On Thursday, the St. Mary's Class of 2020 got the ending piece they need to start the new beginning.