Normal end-of-the-school year traditions were out this year, due to COVID-19, so schools put on their thinking caps to find new ways to honor and celebrate the students.
Sand Pine Elementary School, in Wesley Chapel, held its Fifth Grade Moving Up Ceremony, in the school’s parking lot.
After a parade through the school’s parking loop, each fifth-grader’s name was written in chalk on a parking spot.
Then, their belongings were loaded into the trunk of their car, along with a balloon and a middle school T-shirt, according to Sue Urban, the principal’s secretary.
“Everyone had a great time, even while social distancing,” she said, via email.
At Academy at the Lakes, an independent school in Land O’ Lakes, students drove by in a parade — and picked up their yearbooks, locker stuff, art projects and science projects — all packed in an Academy tote bag with personalized notes from their teachers.
Voluntary prekindergarten graduates from Mary’s House at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church were honored, too.
To bring a special ending to the year, staff from the school did an individual “graduation” ceremony at each child’s house, according to Corrine Ertl, center director.
“First, we gathered all their addresses, divided by subdivision, and mapped out all the addresses, Ertl said, via email.
“Well, we started on Monday and after four days and 489 miles we finished.
“Every child was full of joy. Most of the children had dressed up in their cap and gown, we placed their sign in the yard, played pomp and circumstance through our mobile Bluetooth speaker,” she wrote.
Every child and his or her siblings received cupcakes, and the graduates received their candy class ring, just like they would at graduation, Ertl wrote.
Meanwhile, Pasco and Hillsborough county high schools had to push off their traditional ceremonies because of COVID-19, so other ways were found to honor the seniors until those formal commencement exercises can be held.
In Pasco County, the school district had virtual ceremonies, complete with pomp and circumstance, performed remotely, by students from several bands from across Pasco County.
Drive-by celebrations were held for the Class of 2020 at The Grove in Wesley Chapel and at SunWest Park in Hudson. The city of Zephyrhills had a parade for seniors, too.
Published June 10, 2020