The lawn signs that Portland Public Schools staff and parents are delivering to the homes of the Class of 2020 are signs of the time – a public and safe way to honor graduating seniors during this period of remote learning and social distancing.
The delivery, which began last week and is expected to finish early this week, was planned as a surprise for the 570 seniors who attend Casco Bay, Deering and Portland High Schools. Those distributing the signs have tried to make as much fanfare as possible – honking, whooping and hollering – to celebrate seniors. The sign bearers have been careful to keep the deliveries safe during the pandemic, using social distancing, gloves and masks.
“This was designed as a little pick-me-up for our seniors – just a way to send them love and let them know we are thinking about them and that we know this is a particularly difficult time for them,” said Heather Sawyer, a Deering earth science teacher.
The lawn signs sport the colors and logs of each school and carry encouraging messages: “Congratulations!” “We are proud of you!” “#CLASSOF2020STRONG.”
The Portland Public Schools join other school districts throughout the state in grappling with the reality that the coronavirus has made graduation rituals such as prom and commencement ceremonies impossible to observe in traditional ways at this time.
The district is committed to celebrating seniors during the first week of August, although exactly what the ceremony will be like won’t be determined until the end of May.
“We’re going to try to come up with creative ideas that balance maintaining safety and wellness with having some connection and closure for kids” said Assistant Superintendent Aaron Townsend. “These love signs are just a warm-up to come,” said the press release just issued.