'We believe in you': Hadley Junior High keeps pomp and circumstance for graduates
One school in Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 has found a way to bring the sights and sounds of graduation to the Class of 2020.
A virtual ceremony next month will have many of the usual time-honored traditions: Speeches, musical performances and the reading of graduate's names.
But the fanfare started Tuesday at Hadley Junior High with a celebration designed for the pandemic age.
"We also wanted to do something a little extra-special," Principal Steve Diveley said.
When educators learned students wouldn't return to in-person classes for the rest of the school year, a committee of parents, staff and administrators convened about six weeks ago to face what immediately felt like a sense of loss.
Since then, they've been rethinking how to honor eighth-graders who are making the leap to not only a new campus, but also to a new school district.
"We know that eighth-grade graduation for our district is a big deal," Diveley said.
In keeping with the milestone, the school made a drive-through celebration Tuesday a community event with balloons, music and a few souvenirs to remember their time at Hadley. Students received a congratulatory yard sign, as well as a Glenbard West High School T-shirt provided by the Hadley PTA.
Spanish teacher Karla Montes De Oca was one of the educators holding up posters with encouraging messages for the procession.
"We love you. We miss you. We believe in you," her sign read.
"The adults and leaders in the community are just doing a fantastic job of communicating and thinking creatively," Diveley said.
They're also finalizing plans to host the virtual graduation on YouTube at 7 p.m. June 4.
The principal's advice to graduates?
Don't be anxious. Know that their high school is "going to be ready for them," no matter what classes will look like in the fall. And find reassurance in this: "We've got a great community and all sorts of resources that are forming around each of these kids," Diveley said.