Officials at Rutherford B. Hayes High School have put together a task force to plan events for the senior class before students graduate in May.
Hayes Principal Dr. Richard Stranges said he formed the Class of 2021 Task Force, a committee of staff and teachers, because he wanted to make sure the class of 2021 has memorable moments during its unusual final year.
“We’re trying to provide some opportunities, some activities, some recognition (for seniors),” Stranges said.
He added students in the class of 2020 lost out on the final months of their senior year, but the class of 2021 hasn’t even had a week of a normal year.
“Last year, we felt so bad but the reality was that they were together for three quarters of the year,” Stranges said. “Here, our kids haven’t been together at all as group.”
Stranges said the task force will meet Jan. 21 to discuss and plan to “provide some ideas, activities, acknowledgement of our seniors.” He added there are no parents on the task force, but local parents have been enthusiastic and have reached out to him to “provide some welcome relief for the unfortunately divided class of 2021.”
Stranges said all the ideas will be safe and follow protocols, adding it’s worth doing nontraditional things to give the class opportunities to bond before graduation.
“The typical things, senior prom and things like that, are going to be different, but we may not have to cancel them,” Stranges said. “You only get your senior year once, we have to make it the best we can from the school’s standpoint. You are with your senior class forever … one-year reunion, five-year reunion … To not come together senior year won’t have that long-lasting effect that we want it to have.”
Stranges said he’ll be bringing in students to discuss ideas, but he prefers to have some things remain a surprise.
“I have to know what they want,” he said. “Their input is critical … We’ll spearhead a calendar of events. Some of these are going to be surprises. Philosophically, we want them to be recognized for how great they are. They have such resilience and love for each other. I want to make sure I don’t wait until May 22 at graduation to begin to thank them.”
Stranges added he’s proud of the senior class and shared the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote — “Only in the darkness can you see the stars” — with them Wednesday to encourage them.
“The pandemic has created a sense of darkness and isolation, and if we can provide some light for the class of 2021 and all our students, then I think we should put our heads together and do that,” Stranges said. “We’re going to make sure that their light shines.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG