LINCOLNTON, N.C. - Just like that – COVID-19 seeped in and school was out!
Although we understand that the decision to suspend face to face instructional learning was for the safety and well-being of our kids, it was a hard concept to grasp. As high school seniors, these young men and women have been looking forward to the numerous celebrations that they have geared up for over the past 13 years. As a mom of a Class Of 2020 graduate, I have heard stories of broken hearts and seen the disappointments within so many of these kids, and that when I decided that we have to find light in these dark times. I had seen teachers in other counties and states parading around to celebrate their seniors, students having parades to honor their spring athletes, etc., this is when the thought process began of how and when to have a parade to show the kids that people do understand and care how they feel.
The flyer was worded accordingly to follow social distancing. Kurt Houser, a dad of twin seniors, shared the idea to see if we could possibly get the fire departments to lead the seniors for their route. So I reached out to Garrett Gilbert, who coordinated with the fire departments, and then to Sheriff Bill Beam, who had Lt. Mann call and coordinate blocking traffic during the event. Everyone was happy to be onboard to keep the kids safe, and give them some flashing lights and the sounds of sirens [along the 25-mile route] that would call attention to those who came out to celebrate the great milestones of West Lincoln High School’s Class Of 2020.
As the evening unfolded, the crowds stayed put until the line of about 75 decorated cars passed. There were cow bells, homemade posters, banners, balloons, and flashlights that cheered these grads to be and parents as they passed by. The community’s support lined the streets to shine through and light the way letting these young people know just how saddened they are for them, yet very proud of them as well. It was definitely a night to remember with the smiling faces and happiness that the seniors displayed. The younger classes are calling for this to be a new tradition.
The WLHS Rebel Class Of 2020 has truly been paving the way for the future graduates to follow suit. They had the first ever Prayer By The Rock and lit the skies with Chinese Lanterns, the evening before school began, the SENIOR parade, and this Friday night, Leonards Fork Baptist Church will be hosting a drive in prayer for Light It Up For WLHS’s Class Of 2020: guest speaker Rev. Butch Ross, former coach and teacher of West Lincoln High School, will deliver a special message to his former students and athletes. And Dr. Jaie Warlick, Pastor, a West Lincoln High School Alumni, will close in prayer.
The overall messages we hope that the young adults, who will soon be our future leaders and providers, will take away from these days of adversity is- Nothing lasts forever so never take anything for granted. Be strong. Be courageous. Most of all, be YOU.
A special thanks to the parents of WLHS’s SENIORS, Sheriff Bill Beam, Lt. Mann, Sheriff’s Department, City Police Department, Garrett Gilbert, Union Fire Department, North Brook Fire Department, Howards Creek Fire Department, Lincolnton Fire Department, and to the community.