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Creating special senior moments

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Dover Post

Like flowers coming up through the sidewalk cracks, new traditions and innovative celebrations are springing up from a senior year abruptly cut short. Dover High School is making plans to celebrate the class of 2020.

It includes a cap and gown pick-up, a recorded graduation ceremony and something new to help the students leave a mark at the school. Superintendent Dan Shelton said these are the most likely plans.

“They will change based on any changes the governor makes,” he said.

Dover High School Principal Courtney Voshell is heading these efforts. “This has been one of the hardest committees and conversations to lead,” she said as she presented the plans to the school board May 6. “I believe that once we get through all the things that we planned, our seniors and our parents will look back on it and think, ‘This is the best thing we could have done in a worst-case scenario.’”

Senior signings May 13

Seniors planning to play sports in college can sign up for an appointment to take photos in place of the traditional “signing day.” They can come with their families, wear their college apparel and use the school’s traditional backdrop.

Anyone interested can contact Athletic Director Kevin Turner. His email is kevin.turner@capital.k12.de.us.

Caps and gowns May 21

Students will drive through Dover High’s parking lot to pick up caps and gowns and any other essentials like cords or varsity letters. They will return anything that needs to go back, like band uniforms or textbooks. They will come based on their last name.

  • 1 p.m. (A-D)
  • 2 p.m. (E-K)
  • 3 p.m. (L-R)
  • 4 p.m. (S-Z)

Voshell encourages the seniors to decorate their cars with Senator pride and wear their college gear.

Locking down a legacy

When seniors come to pick up their regalia, they will also have the option to pick up a lock.

Starting May 21, there will be a section of Dover High School’s fence that is dedicated to “the class of lockdown.”

The seniors will be invited to use a lock they have or one they picked up during the drive-thru, decorate it and hang it on the section of fence. There will be a banner recognizing the class.

“That’s probably going to be one of the best photo opportunities for the seniors that we’re going to create,” Voshell said.

The idea, emulating the Lock Bridge in Paris, came from one of the graduating students, Voshell said. “He was shocked,” she said. “He was like, ‘I can’t believe this is going to happen.’”

Awards

Traditionally, there are several award ceremonies at the end of the year. The biggest is Senator Superstars, where various organizations, community members and staff give awards and scholarships. Another is for the career and technical education students when they finish their pathway.

Letters, certificates and any scholarship checks will be mailed at the end of May. There will likely be videos or other virtual ways to recognize these students, Shelton said.

Graduation June 3

The date and time are the same as originally scheduled, except the ceremony will be prerecorded and available online.

All the students’ names will be read. There will be speeches.

“It will be the entire graduation ceremony as we typically know it,” Voshell said.

On Wednesday, June 3, at 6 p.m., the recording will go live, and all students and families are invited to watch. The school will give some ideas for how families can celebrate with virtual watch parties.

Speakers include Voshell, Shelton, the senior class advisor, the valedictorian, salutatorian and senior class president and a message from the school board

As each name is read, their portrait will show on the screen. They will be invited to turn their tassels with recessional music.

At the end, there will be a senior highlights video, including more than 2,000 photos and videos from sports footage, yearbook photos, clubs and organizations or students.

Diplomas June 4-5

While Voshell said she is open to different ideas for how the students can accept their diplomas, she is considering two options right now.

In the first, students pick them up at the high school in a drive-thru similar to the cap and gown pick-up. She suggested the staff could line up along Dover High Drive in their regalia.

Recently, though, about 80 staff members participated in a surprise sign delivery where they dropped off graduation signs at all the seniors’ homes. After that, Voshell thought they could do something similar with the diplomas. They would set up times with each student to make a delivery.

First week of June

Other photo opportunities come the first week of June, which is “senior week.”

There will be 468 signs in the high school’s front lawn, one for every student who was set to graduate, including their name and portrait. Students can take their own sign starting June 12.

These are sponsored by Travis Bowers of Bowers Signs, who is a Dover High alum. State Farm Insurance Agent Billy Reese and UNITED Church were also involved.

“Our heart breaks for this class but [with] their level of resiliency...I know they are designed for greatness,” Voshell said. “This class is very special. We don’t say that lightly.”