WKU student organizes parade honoring graduates

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Julianna Lowe

This May is bringing with it a nontraditional end to the school year, which means that some students are missing rites of passage at the core of educational culture. Proms, pep rallies and standardized tests are passing students right by.

High school and college seniors won’t even get to participate in commencement, so they’ll be missing that feeling of crossing the stage to accept a diploma or degree. One Bowling Green community is trying to make up for that hole in the students’ move forward.

“We will be honoring every high school and college senior in the neighborhood,” WKU senior Remi Mays said. 

Mays is using Facebook to organize a parade for the high school and college seniors in her neighborhood. There are over 30 seniors in her neighborhood alone, and Mays decided to give herself and those seniors some avenue of celebration.

“Everyday, I would walk around the neighborhood, seeing a lot of ‘Class of 2020’ signs in peoples’ yards,” Mays said. “So, I thought the neighborhood could put on a makeshift graduation for them because they are missing out on the most.”

Mays said the inspiration for the makeshift graduation came from John Krasinski’s Some Good News segment. In the segment, Krasinski gives a makeshift prom to the class of 2020. Mays wanted to do something similar. 

“I proposed the idea [on] Facebook and had a number of supporters,” Mays said. “I got asked about including the WKU seniors, and then it grew to all college seniors as well.”

Mays followed up her Facebook posts with letters to every senior in the neighborhood. She put her phone number on the letter, asked if the senior in the house would want to participate and asked what sort of style of celebration the senior would want. 

“We are leaving it up to seniors to decide because they deserve to have a voice considering they have sacrificed so much,” Mays said. “So, if they want to do a parade style with their cars in their caps and gowns, or a drive-by style where cars drive by their houses as they stand in the driveway, it’s up to them.”

Social distancing guidelines are still in place in Kentucky, so Mays has to manage the parade around these guidelines.

“Every post or letter I send out [has] a reminder that social distancing is key,” Mays said. “I am also in the works of getting a cop to lead the parade because it will help keep people six feet apart if they see law enforcement.”

There are two WKU seniors and one MSU senior in the neighborhood participating, with the rest of them being high school seniors. Katherine Morrison, a hospitality management and dietetics major at WKU, is the other senior who plans to attend the parade. 

“I’ve seen a lot of people putting on parades for peoples’ birthdays,” Morrison said. “When I saw Remi suggest it on our neighborhood Facebook page, I thought it’d be a fun way to cheer up high school and college seniors for not being able to have a graduation right now.” 

While Morrison is eager to participate in the parade, she still admits that it won’t be able to replace commencement.

“I don’t think that it can replace the sentimentality of commencement, but it’s something to look forward to,” Morrison said. “I went through having a negative mindset with all of this going on, but you can’t look at it that way.”

Mays has been planning this parade with both “the best way to have fun” and the best way to “keep everyone safe” in mind.

“Social distancing is still key,” Mays said. 

So far, the parade is set for May 16 at 2 p.m., but Mays says everything is still being finalized. 

Features reporter Julianna Lowe can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julianna on social media at @juliannalowe.