GALION — Graduates, family and friends of the the Galion High School Class of 2020 will not forget Saturday’s graduation on the Galion City Schools campus. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, school administrators were given the task of finding a creative way to honor the students and their endeavors, while following Ohio Department of Health guidelines and trying to ensure necessitated social distancing.
They did exactly that, via the use of an outdoor arena, and a drive-in style ceremony that was made available to additional family and friends via Facebook and You Tube.
GHS Principal Ronald Williams welcomed the crowd who gathered for the celebration, but sat inside their vehicles in the parking lot. Superintendent of Schools James Grubbs also addressed the seniors and their families.
“We are here to celebrate the class of 2020,” Grubbs said. “No matter what COVID-19 brought, it was not going to stop us from having a beautiful day for our kids, who well deserve this moment. Class of 2020, one thing is for sure, you’ll never forget it. I guarantee 50 years from now you’ll be able to talk about your graduation because you’ll never forget it. Most of you entered this world shortly after 9/11 — to some one of the worst times of our country. But we came together. We also came through some very rough times, and we’ve come together once again. To the class of 2020 … I am extremely proud of you, I love you, and I’ll miss you.”
“You have persevered through unprecedented times,” said school board president Grant Garverick. “Thirty-nine years ago I graduated from this high school and we did it in the stadium. Tt was nothing like this. Mr. Grubbs is right, you have a graduation you will always remember.
“But, you also you have to remember, you all made this accomplishment and you did it through these rough times. No other class has had to deal with what you’ve had to deal with and you should be proud of yourself for that … and you should remember that. Also remember to thank all those who are in the administration: teachers, parents staff, food service, maintenance and people in the community. You need to remember all of them because they helped and worked tirelessly to get you through this.
“If you can get through this you can do anything else in life because this is going to be one of the hardest things you’ve done. You’re ready to face the world. So good luck,” Garverick concluded.
A virtual GHS choir then appeared on the screen to those watching online, with individual displays of students singing together for the graduates.
Diplomas were handed out as family members drove to the stage and each student walked across the stage and picked up their diploma before getting their photo taken and getting back into their respective vehicles to wait for the rest of the class to receive their diplomas. The first to receive her diploma was Class President Madelyn Thomas, who shared a few parting words to her classmates.
“I am so thankful we can all be together one last time … six feet apart of course,” she joked. “No one could have predicted that we would have been in the middle of a global pandemic during our graduation,. But here were are. My hope for all of us is that through these trying experiences we are able to move forward with integrity. No matter what it is, we are going to move forward. Be courageous. I have no doubt that each and every one of us is capable of making a difference in this society and will pave a path for others to follow in our footsteps.”
Class valedictorian Paige Reagan also addressed the class. She thanked all the individuals who made their school careers possible.
“They have all had some impact on the class of 2020,” Reagan said. “We wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for these people who have given us their continued support.
“Something I find interesting is the fact that this class started school with a change and is now ending it with many unexpected changes,”Reagan added. “Unfortunately, none of us expected to end our senior year like this. We’ve been going through such an unprecedented timed. Teachers have had to teach in completely new ways, and students have had to adapt to new styles of learning.
“Personally, I have been heartbroken about missing out on the traditional end of the year celebrations. However, I believe we are a class that can overcome these troubles and grow from the experience. We will all be OK. Our high school careers are over, but the start of a new life is just around the corner. This story is ending, but with this end comes new beginnings.”
The celebratory parade of cars that was led through Heise Park after the ceremony was a fitting touch for a class that made it through a truly unexpected journey.
Madelyn Thomas, president of the Galion High School Class of 2020, told classmates: "I have no doubt that each and every one of us is capable of making a difference in this society and will pave a path for others to follow in our footsteps.”
The Galion High School Class of 2020 graduated Saturday during a drive-in ceremony on the Galion City Schools. This vehicle also was outfitted with appropriate head-ware.
Class of 2020 valedictorian Paige Reagan told fellow graduates: "Our high school careers are over, but the start of a new life is just around the corner. This story is ending, but with this end comes new beginnings.”