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Serenading seniors

Westwood High Schoolers take part in special parade

Westwood High School seniors take part in a special parade by the high school on Thursday, the day of what would have been their formal graduation ceremony. The parade was a way for the students to be recognized despite the COVID-19 pandemic that cut short their traditional senior year. (Journal photo by Christie Mastric)

ISHPEMING — It wasn’t the graduation ceremony Westwood High School seniors had expected at the beginning of the school year, but a Thursday parade allowed them at least some of the recognition they so richly deserved.

Local fire departments were part of the parade in which seniors were allowed to drive their vehicles individually — or with family members — on a loop that took them from Westwood, along nearby roads, and then back.

Some vehicles were decorated and, in keeping with the notable occasion of their lives, some seniors wore their caps and gowns. Parents and the public also were invited to line the parade route to show their support for seniors as they drove by.

Thursday was the day the students’ graduation was to have taken place. However, the COVID-19 pandemic altered the course of this milestone event.

“We know that this parade cannot replace a formal graduation ceremony, but in these strange times we wanted to take a moment to recognize our graduates,” NICE Community Schools Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine said in an email. “We are hopeful that we will be allowed to have an in-person ceremony on our campus at some point before summer concludes. However, as the next few months unfold, we will always be proud of the WHS Class of 2020 for their grace, resilience and fortitude throughout their school careers.”

Westwood 12th-graders already had been getting some attention, with “Senior Spotlights” of the graduating seniors’ extracurricular activities and career plans being shown on Facebook.

Senior Heidy Pelkola said it was “special” she got to share the parade with her friends.

“I think the school did a good job of setting something up for the students since they didn’t get their special day,” Pelkola said.

Christie Mastric can be reached at cbleck@miningjournal.net.

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