Working to Honor the Mount Si High School Class of 2020: Babies of 9/11, Graduates of the Pandemic

Mount Si High School administrators, staff and parents have been working for weeks on graduation plans to honor the Class of 2020, which had the last months of its senior year upended by the COVID-19 crisis.

The planning committee is doing its best given the hand it was dealt due to pandemic restrictions. They’re trying to inject positivity to counter all the ‘lasts’ this class will miss.

GONE: prom, the moving up assembly and Last Blast, graduation practice, walking arm and arm with best friends in cap and gowns, shaking a school board member’s hand while receiving the diploma they worked 13 years for; huddling in a group and tossing those red caps while parents vie for the best cap toss photo; graduation hugs.

It’s a long list, and while administrators know there’s no way to make it the same, they are working to make it as special as possible, letting graduates know how proud they are.

This week started the countdown to graduation for the Mount Si High School Class of 2020. If you haven’t already heard, the ceremony will be virtual and streamed on June 19th at 4:30PM. If you can’t watch it live, you will be able to purchase a copy of the ceremony to watch later.

BUT preparation for the virtual, recorded ceremony started this week. The past two days 2020 graduates arrived at Mount Si under strict social distancing rules. The parking lot was decked out with balloons and signs.

It was a ‘kind of’ drive-thru photo shoot. Cars (driven by family members) entered the parking lot, checked in, dropped the student in the covered parking lot where they were photographed in front of a green screen picking up their diploma. Parents then parked and waited.

Once green screen pictures were done, families could take more photos – in front of a Mount Si sign and in front of a fence decked out to honor 2020 seniors. Yard signs were also distributed to families.

Parking lot fence honoring MSHS Class of 2020

On a personal note, as the parent of a MSHS 2020 senior, I want to thank those who helped make yesterday special… as special as it possibly could be given the circumstances.

My daughter is the youngest of four. She has sat at three other Mount Si graduation ceremonies. She watched the build up three times. Watched her siblings enjoy the last months of high school. It was finally her turn. The reality of a missing it all was devastating. Slowly, she is coming to terms with it. Just like many of her classmates.

On June 19th the graduation ceremony will air for all to watch. Student-elected class speakers will still give their speeches. Mr. Belcher will still address the class and parents. Each student will be announced with his/her diploma. We are told it will be a great production.

Earlier that day there will also be a special car parade for MSHS Class of 2020 starting at 11AM. Graduates will be encouraged to decorate cars and police will lead them along the parade route. The exact route is still being finalized and subject to city approval.

On our way home from grad photos yesterday – and decked out in her bright red cap and gown – we made a few pits stops. I stood in the middle of Millpond Road and took her photo while Mount Si reflected in the water. A passerby yelled congratulations.

We stopped at the Snoqualmie Falls viewing decks. More congratulations were offered. A man in his mask stopped. Signaled to give us the camera. This stranger took our photo without us asking. A small child looked at my daughter with admiration while holding his father’s hand.

Later her friends came over. Stayed properly distanced in the backyard, drank sparkling cider, talked, laughed and took photos for hours.

We tried to make yesterday as special as possible – and we’ll continue to do that going forward…until June 19th.

So – if you see a car driving around town with decorated “Senior 2020” windows – give them a honk. Scream congratulations. Because we can tell you for certain – it does means A LOT.

[Look for Living Snoqualmie’s annual ‘Graduating Class Journey Down Memory Lane’ article coming in early June.]

MSHS 2020 grad arriving for photos
MSHS graduation green screen photo session
Jennifer McCall, MSHS Class of 2020

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