McCleary students enjoy improvised graduation

McCleary Elementary students received their certificates in a different way this year. Craig County teachers and staff still made it a special occasion.

Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

Though the 2020 graduations were very different this year because of the coronavirus, McCleary Elementary fought hard to give their students one that they will never forget. They worked diligently on ideas which would show their students that they are truly cared and missed.

Fifth-grader Blake Hannah shared that he wants to be a police officer one day.

Gerri VanDyke, Principal of McCleary, shared the improvised ceremony she and the staff planned for the May 28 graduation. “McCleary staff anxiously awaited the student’s arrival on their graduation day. Staff members had not seen their students in person since March 13 when Governor Ralph Northam ordered all kindergarten-through-12th grade schools to close.”

The McCleary staff wore shirts that read “McCleary Strong, #Quaranteach” and the staff parked in front of the school, cars decorated with signs.

“Mr. Persinger, Mrs. Wolfe, and Mrs. Mattox directed the lineup, where we celebrated pre-K, kindergarten, and fifth-grade promotion ceremonies,” VanDyke continued. “When parents and students arrived, they followed the car in front of them to the circle in the back of the elementary school. Cars were then directed to the front where they pulled up to their child’s teacher for them to receive their promotion certificate.”

Kindergarten pupil McKenzie Arthur wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

The staff had previously asked that the students be seated near a window to receive their certificate and to have their picture taken.

“The parents handed a completed card to staff directing traffic, which stated the name of each student, the names of the people in the car celebrating with them, and what they wanted to be when they grow up,” VanDyke mentioned before adding, “When it was their turn, they were greeted by music, a big sign that said, ‘Congratulations,’ and then Mrs. VanDyke announced each student and read the information that was on their card over the loudspeaker for everyone to hear.”

Pre-K student Baryn Crawford shared that he wants to help his grandmother cross the road when he grows up.

Students smiled, some looked at their teachers as to ask, “Can I have a hug?” Still, others whooped and laughed with glee as they received their graduation certificate.

The drive-through ceremony was not a typical promotion ceremony for McCleary Elementary,” McCleary staff shared. “However, it was one that will be remembered by all.”

more recommended stories