Sheltered Diaries: Celebrating Seniors During a Pandemic

I’m not a crier by nature. But today I had a lump in my throat as I walked through a safe celebration of W.T. White seniors.

All day today, seniors at the high school drove through an assembly-style line that allowed them to return books and equipment and pick up their caps and gowns. Neighbors around the school set up along the streets that border the school with signs and cheers.

But reflecting on my own high school graduation, and all the fun of amusing ourselves while all 500 of us made our way across the stage, all of the festivities that led up to it that day, I know – a drive through celebration by masked teachers and parents was not how any senior pictures their graduation going when they start the first day of that year.

I think that’s what also got me right in the feels today – the fact that I could also keenly remember the promise the first day of your senior year holds. Things you’ve been waiting to do – watching upperclassmen do for three years – are finally yours.

Until a pandemic comes and they’re not.

Even schools that are holding traditional ceremonies will find them much different than years past and tinged with a bit of anxiety, too.

Parents and communities are scrambling to make the culmination of senior year special, and we’re going to do our part to help, too.

We want to know your stories – how are you celebrating your graduates? Seniors, tell us how it feels to know (practically) that safety is paramount but also feel in your heart that this is a loss.

Parents and grandparents (or friends of grads, even) – we know that you may be trying to maintain some social distancing and have nixed a party or other festivities at this time. And while we typically keep a bit of separation between church and state when it comes to the editorial staff (the writers) and advertising staff, I did want to point out a great way to honor your graduate: A graduation announcement in Park Cities People or Preston Hollow People.

For possibly less than the cost of a big blowout party, you can honor a graduate in our July issues.

It’s a great way to brag on your graduate – celebrate their accomplishments from the classroom, the science lab, the stage, the art studio, and the playing field then share their plans for the future with your neighbors and friends.

The deadline to participate is May 26 – to get more details, click here. And in the meantime, enjoy this short gallery of W.T. White’s celebration today.

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, deputy editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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