On Tuesday, a mysterious plant sprouted in front yards all across the Delaware City School District as teachers from the district “planted” signs to honor the Hayes High School Class of 2020.
The surprise gesture was organized by Hayes Principal Ric Stranges, who said Thursday that it’s a tradition at Hayes to allow seniors to pick the staff member they’d like to give them their diploma.
Graduation was originally scheduled to be held May 23, but it was postponed to July due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, Stranges made an announcement on Facebook in April that the school would be having graduation on May 23 in a drive-thru format. The new ceremony will begin at the fairgrounds. From there, seniors will ride with their families to the high school, where they will be handed their diploma and be allowed to take a picture in front of the school.
Stranges said Superintendent Heidi Kegley came up with the idea to have staff members that were supposed to give out diplomas at graduation to instead go put “Hayes Senior Lives Here” signs in yards of those students.
Kegley said she was glad to see the tradition live on this year.
“Our students selecting their diploma presenter is such a special tradition!” Kegley said Thursday. “I am grateful that we were able to honor that in a different, but special way this year. It was wonderful to see all of the pictures of staff delivering signs to their homes. We are so proud of our seniors!”
Stranges added he was stunned by the enthusiasm of district staff.
“I was more than impressed and surprised for the 100% turnout we had for that day,” he said. “I even had a teacher who is teaching at Lima-Bath High School and hasn’t been here for three years come back to plant a sign. It was an amazing turnout. I heard stories and saw pictures of our seniors who were overjoyed by that connection.”
Stranges said he’s proud of the class of 2020 for its resilience and patience.
“We’ll continue to try and make this experience memorable for them, because they deserve it,” he said. “They’re great kids who have asked for nothing. We aren’t responding to their requests (with this event), they are hanging in there and being very patient. The sacrifice they’ve made has saved lives. They’ve been very, very selfless.”
Hayes science teacher Keith Butts was one of the teachers planting signs Tuesday. It was a task he was more than willing to do.
“It’s always an honor when someone ask you to hand them their diploma,” Butts said. “It feels good to know that you had a positive impact on a person’s life. With everything going on I think this is a great way for us to show appreciation to those students.”
More information about graduation can be found at www.dcs.k12.oh.us/hayeshs.
Glenn Battishill can be reached 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.