Homer High School Principal Douglas VanEtten stood in front of the school Friday morning and pointed to the school’s Blue Pride bus and the line of cars behind it on their way to celebrate graduating seniors.
“This is a community,” he said. “Graduation, as much as it’s about the students at Homer, it’s always been a community celebration so I’m glad to see all parts of our community here with us today.”
More than 40 cars honked their horns and music blared as residents took part in the caravan that traveled across Homer, Cortlandville and Summerhill on the first day of a three-day celebration for seniors.
School and district administrators stopped at the homes of seniors to drop off a Homer Central High School lawn sign, celebratory mugs, cap and gowns, a lawn sign for students to decorate and a diploma cover.
Information regarding graduation and other end-of-the-year events was also delivered in a packet.
“I think it’s great, honestly, for all the seniors,” said Ally Beard, the first senior the caravan visited. “I think we’ve worked so hard to come this far. It’s very disappointing with the whole (coronavirus) situation, but I think if everyone keeps a positive outlook, things will definitely get better.”
Beard said she was hoping for an in-person graduation ceremony, but is still waiting on a decision from the school.
Ethan Jensen, a senior who lives on Maple Avenue, Homer, said the caravan was a good reminder that the district was still thinking about the seniors.
“They’re trying to reach out to the community during a troubling time,” he said. “A lot of people are cooped up inside and going stir crazy, and also I think it’s nice to show that there are people thinking of them.”
Kerri Jensen, his mother, said the caravan helps make up for end-of-the-year events that had to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“He doesn’t even realize what he’s missing out on because he won’t know until he’s older and looks back and goes, ‘Well I didn’t get to go to prom, I didn’t get to go to graduation, and senior banquet,’” she said.
The school is looking at ways to have commencement on June 27, but much of that will depend on state guidelines that will be determined during the reopening phases, VanEtten said.
The school will also look at how it could host other end-of-year events like the senior banquet, yearbook give-away and senior photo montage.
Whatever the decisions, Friday’s caravan was to let them know that they weren’t forgotten.
“It’s just that opportunity to see them and say ‘graduation is coming,’” he said. “It’s not going.”