Their senior year was interrupted by a pandemic.
And they got their diplomas in a drive-through ceremony in May.
But Apollo High School was finally able to give the Class of 2020 a fitting send-off in the school’s new football stadium Thursday on a cool August night.
The traditional speeches that mark the end of high school echoed through the stadium and adjacent neighborhoods.
“We are happy to follow through with our promise to have this ceremony to honor them for their accomplishments,” Principal Rick Lasley said. “These graduates will be stronger and far more resilient than any class before them for what they have endured these past few months. We wish them all the very best.”
The class had 277 members. But only 125 chose to go through Thursday’s 8:30 p.m. ceremony, Lasley said.
It was a little different than previous years. Attendance was limited to 1,000 people. And everyone was asked to wear masks. Family members could take theirs off during the ceremony. But graduates were told to wear theirs the whole time.
The class motto was, fittingly for 2020, “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
“This year, the school system was obviously hit incredibly hard,” Macy Dame, class president and honor graduate, said before the ceremony. “I’d, admittedly a bit selfishly, like to think it was the hardest for us seniors.”
She said, “It felt as though the last half of our senior year was ripped away from us. We waited four years for it to finally be our turn, and suddenly the tail end, and arguably the best part, of our senior year was gone. We missed out on sports seasons, senior prom, a normal graduation, arts performances and club competitions.”
“It seems crazy looking back on that hectic March Friday which turned out to be our last day as seniors,” Dame said. “It definitely hurt to lose all that we’d hoped for over the course of the last 12 years of our lives. And sometimes I still feel as though high school is incomplete.”
‘The stories we are going to tell’
But, she said, “These are the stories we are going to tell our grandchildren when they’re our age, interviewing us for school projects. And while it has seemed like a catastrophe at times, I believe several of us can appreciate the strength that this experience is building.”
“The spirit of the Class of 2020 has been a communal stronghold that has given us all a greater strength than any other graduating class before us,” Dame said. “We have a lifelong tie to one another, and it truly is something spectacular to be a part of.”
Dame will be going to Kentucky Wesleyan College this fall, playing on the tennis team and studying theater and drama.
“Believe it or not, I’m excited to be in the classroom again,” she said. “Over the past few months, I discovered that I have taken in-person school entirely for granted, and I miss those class discussions and just the general camaraderie of it all.”
Jacob Robin, class vice president, said, “I came into my senior year with expectations of being able to do the senior end-of-the-year activities and having one last great year with all my friends before we all go off to college. I was looking forward to my choir concerts, theater production, senior walk, along with many other activities that unfortunately didn’t get to happen because of the pandemic.”
“Seeing that those expectations were not met, my senior year felt meaningless — almost as if senior year didn’t even matter,” he said. “Having said that, I think doing a second graduation ceremony that is closer to the original event is very important to my class because at the very least we got a graduation.”
Robin said, “I have less than two weeks before I move into my dorm at Western Kentucky University. Once I get there, I’m going to try to have as normal a first semester in college as possible. Most of my classes have in some way moved online and we are only meeting about once a week.”
He said he’s planning to be a social studies teacher — “I’ve always liked working with other people and helping people grow mentally.”
Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301, email@example.com