Gerald Auto celebrates seniors with signs Celebrating graduates: St. Charles North seniors supported with sign project

  • For five years, entities within Gerald Auto Group have sponsored senior signs for St. Charles North High School. This year, placing signs in seniors' yards is one tradition that unaffected by the COVID-19 crisis. Pictured are Anna Sangali of Italy and Milena Petrovic of Montenegro in 2016, exchange students who stayed with sign designer Tom Mullallay.

    For five years, entities within Gerald Auto Group have sponsored senior signs for St. Charles North High School. This year, placing signs in seniors' yards is one tradition that unaffected by the COVID-19 crisis. Pictured are Anna Sangali of Italy and Milena Petrovic of Montenegro in 2016, exchange students who stayed with sign designer Tom Mullallay. Photo courtesy of Tom Mullallay

 
Posted5/14/2020 12:02 AM

With more and more spring and summer pastimes postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19, communities are looking for anything that denotes a sense of normalcy. For families of graduating high school seniors at St. Charles North, that comes in the form of celebrating and recognizing graduates by placing signs in the front yards of every student's home.

For the last five years, graduating seniors have woken up one morning in mid-May to signs celebrating their achievements placed outside their homes. A large contingent of parent volunteers follow the school bus routes to plant well over 500 signs in students' front yards in just one night so all graduates can be celebrated on the same day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"When the signs go up and kids see them for the first time, they're grinning from ear to ear. That makes every bit of it worthwhile," said Tom Mullally, who designs the signs every year.

Although COVID-19 will prevent seniors from having an in-person graduation and gatherings to celebrate this milestone, it will not stop families from having signs delivered to display in front of their homes. By mid-May, all 550 graduating seniors will have a sign in their yard. It's a tradition that Mullally holds close to his heart. His own children graduated from St. Charles North, and for the past 25 years, Mullally and his wife have sponsored nearly 30 exchange students who have also graduated from the school. All have had signs proudly displayed in front of the Mullally home.

The signs would not be possible without generous support from the community. From the volunteers who distribute them to Mullally's donated design skills to different entities within Gerald Auto Group sponsoring the project, developing and circulating the signs is a community affair. Gerald Subaru is sponsoring the project this year, and like Mullally, it's a cause close to the company's heart. Deen Collins, vice president of Gerald Auto Group, proudly displayed a sign when his son graduated two years ago and is looking forward to doing so again in 2021 when his daughter graduates. He's proud of the fact that Gerald Subaru can help this tradition continue during this chaotic and stressful time and is pleased that the company can still make a positive impact in the lives of St. Charles North students, even though the physical school remains closed.

"I hope the signs have an even bigger impact for families this year and that being able to display them helps fill some of the void of not being able to experience senior activities like prom or graduation," said Collins.

For more on Gerald Auto Group, visit www.geraldauto.com.

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