Not a traditional graduation, but still a send-off to remember for Hoffman Estates seniors

  • Senior Alex Hwang smiles at teachers as he and his family drive through the Hoffman Estates High School senior send-off parade in the school's parking lot Wednesday.

      Senior Alex Hwang smiles at teachers as he and his family drive through the Hoffman Estates High School senior send-off parade in the school's parking lot Wednesday. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Graduate Sanjana Rastogi smiles as her family drives past a long line of teachers and staff Wednesday as Hoffman Estates High School held a senior send-off parade for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot.

      Graduate Sanjana Rastogi smiles as her family drives past a long line of teachers and staff Wednesday as Hoffman Estates High School held a senior send-off parade for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • A senior drives past saluting teachers during Hoffman Estates High School's senior send-off parade Wednesday.

      A senior drives past saluting teachers during Hoffman Estates High School's senior send-off parade Wednesday. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Seniors Maria Mendez, left, and Priscilla Valencia wave Wednesday as they drive through the Hoffman Estates High School senior send-off parade for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot.

      Seniors Maria Mendez, left, and Priscilla Valencia wave Wednesday as they drive through the Hoffman Estates High School senior send-off parade for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Math teacher Kyle Engels salutes a graduate Wednesday during Hoffman Estates High School's senior send-off parade in the school's parking lot.

      Math teacher Kyle Engels salutes a graduate Wednesday during Hoffman Estates High School's senior send-off parade in the school's parking lot. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Science teacher Suzanne Fetherling had a special move for each student she had taught as the seniors drove by Wednesday during Hoffman Estates High School's send-off parade.

      Science teacher Suzanne Fetherling had a special move for each student she had taught as the seniors drove by Wednesday during Hoffman Estates High School's send-off parade. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Hoffman Estates High School held a senior send-off parade Wednesday for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot.

      Hoffman Estates High School held a senior send-off parade Wednesday for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Teachers clap and cheer for seniors as they drive by Wednesday during Hoffman Estates High School's senior send-off parade for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot.

      Teachers clap and cheer for seniors as they drive by Wednesday during Hoffman Estates High School's senior send-off parade for its Class of 2020 in the school's parking lot. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/13/2020 7:15 PM

The day before they were scheduled to be striding across a stage, receiving diplomas and applause, Hoffman Estates High School seniors instead marked their graduation Wednesday by driving slowly through their school parking lot, waving at masked and cheering teachers.

It was another unique experience in unprecedented circumstances for the Class of 2020.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Principal Josh Schumacher said school leaders wanted to do something special for their 465 graduates.

"We care a lot for our seniors, and in the current environment, we've not been able to do a lot of the traditional events, so we wanted to set one up where we could keep everyone safe but also still give them a celebration and some closure," he said.

And it worked for the staff as well.

"Everybody's missing each other," he said.

Some students drove themselves, but most came with their families. Many rode in decorated cars, and some even wore caps and gowns.

"I'm excited to see all my kids, but it's a very bittersweet day," said science teacher Suzanne Fetherling, who greeted each of her students with a cheer and a high kick. "My kids have worked so hard this year that it's sad to see it end this way, but hopefully this can be a little bit of closure for them."

Math teacher Kyle Engles tried to look on the bright side.

"My initial reaction was that I feel so bad for these seniors because they miss out on things like prom and graduation and stuff like that, but there's still something to be said for all these teachers coming out and wishing them well," he said. "Even though this isn't a traditional graduation, it is something they'll remember for the rest of their lives."

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