The graduating Class of 2020 will forever be known as the Class of COVID-19.
Because this year’s crop of Colusa County high school seniors are not likely to walk to “Pomp and Circumstance” in front of grandstands filled with cheering family and friends until the threat of SARS-CoVid 2 has passed, the community is coming together to help them make the most of it.
Last week, Colusa High Schools seniors were given Class of 2020 yard signs with their names printed on them to place at their homes. The signs are to remind people passing by to remember what the Class of 2020 were forced to sacrifice in such extraordinary times, organizers said.
Online graduation and virtual grad night parties are possibly in the works to make up for the cancellation of large social events under state and local shelter-in-place orders, which could last well into the summer.
Sheri Swift-Garofalo, who graduated from Colusa High School in 1985, spearheaded the sign project so that parents, friends, and community members could honor the seniors who were forced to give up so much in the wake of a global pandemic.
“We started thinking about the kids and how sad it was that they don’t get the one thing – probably the most important thing – that they have worked for their entire life,” Garafalo said.
Swift-Garofalo said when she floated the idea after seeing other schools in the state jump into action, donations came pouring in to make sure all 115 Colusa High School, Colusa Alternative High School, and Home School students received a sign. As the project took off, so did the orders for seniors throughout the county.
“The fact that the community responded so quickly shows that we live in a great county,” Swift-Garofalo said.
Colusa High School senior Edith Moreno was one of many students to pick up their sign at the Colusa County Fairgrounds on Saturday, and did so with a smile on her face.
Moreno said seniors know the Class of 2020 are likely to miss all end-of-year activities (prom, academic award ceremonies, spring sports, and more) under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive that all school campuses remain closed for the rest of the school year, but are determined not to let the circumstances from a pandemic get them down.
“It’s sad,” she said. “But people are dying and we understand that we can’t have graduation.”
As for the signs – “they are dope” – she said, and “very much appreciated.”
Most of Colusa’s signs were handed out in one day, as Swift-Garofalo – wearing gloves and a face mask – passed them through car windows as drive-up service. The remainder are being delivered or picked up this week under social distancing protocols.
Swift-Garofalo said donations in excess of what was needed for signs for seniors of Colusa High School would be donated to Grad Night activities, whatever those may be under health directives that may still be in effect next on May 29.
The signs, Swift-Garafalo, are just the first step in making 2020 memorable in a positive way. “While this small in comparison to what they are missing out on, it kind of brightens things up a little bit,” Swift-Garafalo said. “The parents were really excited about it – and the students.”