For a senior class that's missed out on prom, spring concerts, awards nights, sports and many other potentially memorable events canceled due to social distancing policies, cap and gown pick up at Saline High School was a bright spot.
Senior Ryan Lampman was among the 400+ students and parents who were greeted by friendly, although masked, faces at Saline High School Friday. Frank Flores and Carol Melcher, perennial prom chaperones, greeted folks as they pulled in to the parking lot. Teachers waved and cheered as poppy music pumped loudly through the speakers. Pattie Fosdick, Dean of Students, dressed in the Sting mascot uniform - and drew smiles when she unmasked herself to reveal her identity.
Along the way, students collected their caps and gowns - even if they don't yet know when they'll don them for commencement. They also collected a bag full of Hornet swag - t-shirts, masks and more.
Seeing the effort had an impact on students like Lampman.
"It's a little disappointing to miss out on all the normal senior activities, but I'm glad we get to do things like this. I think the staff is doing the best possible thing they can to make up for what we've lost," Lampman said. "This whole pandemic is terrible for everyone. Seniors? We've had it rough, but we're not the only ones. Everyone is going through rough times. We've got to stay positive and pushing forward. And I'm glad we had things like this."
It was a day full of tears, smiles and happiness for the staff, said Saline High School Principal David Raft.
"It's been emotional. I've always been about the kids. For many of them, I've been with them for seven years, going back to Saline Middle School," Raft said. "I'm just so happy to see them."
Raft said staff from throughout the district joined the effort to provide something a little special for the Class of 2020.
"Things were different this year for our seniors and we wanted to honor them," Raft said.
The district is continuing to weigh its options for commencement ceremonies.
According to an email sent by Saline Area Schools to parents, the first option is to host a traditional graduation ceremony at Hornet Stadium on July 11, but if that can't happen safely, the district has set June 20 as a date for mini-ceremonies and a processional of vehicles at Hornet Stadium.
A decision on whether or not a traditional ceremony can be held will be communicated to parents by June 1.