LOUDON, Tenn. (WATE) — Graduating seniors at Loudon High School were able to pick up their caps and gowns via drive-thru Wednesday, although the actual plan for the ceremony is unknown.
A few hours later, Gov. Bill Lee recommended schools remain closed for the rest of the school year.
Scott Mackintosh, principal of Loudon High, said he wanted to be able to give seniors as many good memories of their last year in high school as possible.
“The biggest thing is, speaking as a parent of a senior, some of these seniors want to get into those things and want to get out and get some more senior pictures taken, get the family pictures and things like that,” he said.
The graduating class for this school year was 160 seniors.
Mackintosh said his students deserved the best year they can have, despite the coronavirus ending their last year early.
“I really want to make a graduation and prom so that everybody can attend as much as possible, so that we can get all the families in town and have something that these seniors well deserve and have earned, which is a graduation day and a prom that they can be proud of,” Mackintosh said.
A few of the seniors appreciated being able to pick up their caps and gowns, because they missed out on so many other senior traditions, and saying bye to their friends.
“I was really grateful that I was able to pick it up and see all my teachers again, even in the safety of my car,” Catherine, a senior, said.
“It feels good, you know, knowing that they still have hope for us to graduate. I’m really glad about that,” Konar, another senior, said.
For Hensley, another senior, volunteering at the cap and gown drive-thru was a way she could see the classmates and teachers she missed.
Like the other seniors, it wasn’t the end of high school they were expecting, but she’s hopeful it will still end with a ceremony.
“Everything’s going to work out how it’s supposed to, but I miss my classmates and I miss finishing out my senior year,” Hensley said.
The teachers were also happy to help. It gave them an opportunity to see their kids in person, while also still practicing social distancing.
“All the teachers kind of got together and wanted to come out, anyone that felt comfortable to coming, and supporting the seniors as they’re coming through, getting their caps and gowns. Just give them some words of encouragement. We haven’t had all of these students, but each of us had at least one of them. Just to come out and say ‘hello, we missed you, we love you,’ and just let them know that we care,” Kristi Correa, a Spanish teacher, said.
Mackintosh gave a shout-out to the teachers as well.
He said that being a principal or a teacher isn’t easy during this time, but they were all working hard to make sure their students could get every opportunity possible to further their education.
“It’s hard to put into words, hard to keep from crying myself…We’re so proud of (the teachers). So proud of them. I can’t tell you how much that we miss them as well, and they’re doing such great work,” Mackintosh said.
He said that he wasn’t sure when or how they could make a graduation ceremony happen, but he said they would.
The seniors said that they are grateful the teachers are trying to help save some of the graduating traditions.
“I really hope that the ceremony still happens, because I know how hard the class of 2020 has worked to get to this graduation. So, I just hope for my class that we’re able to have a ceremony of any kind,” Catherine, said.
Mackintosh said they will be hosting another event for seniors called Lights of Hope. All the stadium lights will be shining on April 20th at 8:20 p.m. to commemorate their achievement.
Seniors will also be able to pick up their cap and gown Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.