During normal times, Marie Joles is busy at her day job, working as a dental hygienist.
And, typically during this time of year, high school seniors are gearing up for their final festivities in high school — prom, awards ceremonies, graduation.
But, the threat of a highly contagious and deadly virus — the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic — has upended life’s ordinary routines.
So, instead of going to work, Joles has been at home. And, instead of gearing up for traditional celebrations and hanging out with friends, seniors have been spending their final school days distance learning.
Joles hated the thought that their senior year would end that way. After all, she remembered how special it was for her family to go through the festivities when her daughter, Samantha, graduated last year.
So, Joles, who is a board member of the Wiregrass Ranch High School’s PTSA and in charge of that group’s social media efforts, asked PTSA president Jennifer Kanyok, if she could do Senior Spotlights on their social media.
Once she got the go-ahead, she began soliciting the spotlights on her personal Facebook page and on the Seven Oaks Facebook page.
Then she reached out by text and email to Robyn White, the school’s principal; David Wilson, the athletic director; and to all of the school coaches.
She also reached out to Bobbie Gebhart, the band booster president, and Jeni Wiseman, the football team mom — to spread the word about the profiles.
The parents submit the photos and blurbs, which Joles tweaks and posts.
In less than 24 hours, she had seven profiles ready.
Now, there are dozens posted.
They convey a sense of pride of the parents who submitted the blurbs about their children.
The profiles offer a glimpse of the lives these members of the Wiregrass Ranch High Class of 2020 have led, and offer insights about their personalities and aspirations.
Some have earned college credits, a college diploma or industry certifications while still in high school. Others have volunteered hundreds of hours.
They’ve been in theatrical performances, in marching band and orchestra, in color guard and cheerleading.
They’ve competed in lacrosse, soccer, swimming, football, track, basketball, weightlifting, basketball and other sports.
They’ve been members of the National Honor Society, the Key Club, and Health Occupations Students of America, to name just a few clubs.
And, they have wide-ranging ambitions.
Some plan to pursue traditional careers, such as nursing, law and business administration. Others aspire to less common paths, such as becoming a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer, a makeup specialist or an animator.
Most graduates appear to be heading off to higher education in the Sunshine State, at such colleges as Pasco-Hernando State College, Saint Leo University, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida, the University of Florida, Florida State University and Stetson University.
Regardless of what they’ve done, or where they’re going — they have made an impression.
One graduate is described as “a beautiful soul and a day of sunshine.”
Another is said to have “a musician’s heart.”
One “has a big heart, is a hard worker and knows how to live in the moment.”
Another has “a wicked sense of humor, amazing spirit and zeal for life.”
Joles said she wanted to do the spotlights because this is a special time for seniors and they deserve recognition.
“I wanted to let them know that we appreciate them,” she said.
How are you celebrating your graduating seniors?
The normal ceremonies that mark completion of high school are being postponed until later this year. Meanwhile, families and schools are getting creative in their efforts to help celebrate members of the Class of 2020.
What are you doing? We’d love to know. We’re planning to do a story sharing how families and schools within The Laker/Lutz News are rising to the occasion to make their high school seniors feel special.
Thank you, in advance, for your help.
Published May 06, 2020