In age of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have been searching to find new and inventive ways to honor the Class of 2020.
The community of Milaca is trying something it has never done before, hanging banners of this year’s seniors.
Andy Nelson, senior advisor and band teacher at Milaca, said that the school wanted to find a way to honor the seniors in a special way, with the class already having missed out on many things a public health crisis has taken from them.
“We were looking for a way to honor this particular class. We are doing everything we can to let them know we are here and we haven’t forgotten about them,” Nelson said, referring to the decision to hang the banners.
The idea was brought forth by a parent, he said.
The banners that were hung by volunteers feature photos of those graduating this year.
They were fastened to a fence near Milaca High School on May 12.
Student yearbook photos were used on the banners.
Amber Kent and the Milaca Community Coalition (MCC) were instrumental in the production and hanging of the banners.
Since the MCC and Milaca High School were already working on a common effort, the pairing worked to perfection.
“We were kind of working on the same idea, we had the same goal in mind,” Kent said.
The initial idea was to place the banners on light poles around Milaca. However, because total number of seniors exceeded the number of poles available, the idea of a banner concept on school fencing took root. The MCC contacted its graphic designer, and was able to receive a grant that paid for almost all of the banners cost.
Kent and the MCC also teamed with the Rise Campaign, which aims to reduce and prevent underage drinking and substance abuse, to produce signs honoring the seniors.
Those signs, known Senior Signs, feature the Milaca School emblem with a hashtag reading “Senior Strong.”
Kent and the MCC have been delivering the signs to those individuals and the businesses that have purchased them.
Smaller signs have also been hung on light poles throughout the city of Milaca, congratulating the soon-to-be graduates.
Nelson helped supervise handing out caps and gowns in his most recent contact with the students.
He said, “Every single kid that I have seen has been gracious and thankful and kind and patient. It just says so much about these kids. They are in a place that no one has been before, but they are handling it with so much class and so we are trying to honor them as best we can.”