MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Shelby County Schools seniors and school leaders are excited about a new plan to celebrate and honor graduates despite their final year being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The day that we last attended school a lot of me and my friends, we didn't know that would be the last day we would see each other, " said Tyler Finley, Valedictorian for East High School.
Finley plans to attend Howard University in Washington D.C. this fall and major in Biology.
He hopes to attend medical school for dermatology, and then come back to Memphis to serve his community.
He says he’s grateful for the #SCSSeniorStrong plan.
"At first it was hard for all of us to understand why was this happening or how could we even make the best out of it, but as the weeks have gone by and I've looked at the statistics of this, I think it's the best thing that we stay where we are right now," Finley said.
The plan will be broken into three phases.
The first phase will happen in May where the week of May 18, a new graduation website will be launched featuring commemorative programs for every high school listing all 2020 graduates.
Students and parents will be able to download these as keepsakes.
Then in June, the district will host drive-thru senior salutes where students and their families can safely visit campus to pick up diplomas and awards, and decorate their cars for senior-themed photo opportunities.
Finally in July, students will have an opportunity to walk across the stage for a traditional ceremony.
All while following social distancing requirements.
Finley says he missed his prom because of COVID-19, so he's excited to have another opportunity to walk across the stage.
"The #SCSSeniorStrong plan is a little different from a lot of other districts because some districts have already resorted to a virtual graduation and a cancellation of senior events, but I think it was great that Dr. Ray took his time to announce this plan so that it won't seem as if things have to be changed," Finley said.
Dr. Billy Walker, Director of Student Affairs for SCS says he's proud of the Class of 2020, and they have earned the opportunity to be honored.
"I remember going through graduation, going to prom and for that to be taken and they still have such an upbeat attitude, it's almost uplifting to see them and they're attitudes about adjusting and shifting to this pandemic," Dr. Walker said.
SCS will provide additional updates and details leading up to #SCSSeniorStrong activities.