There is growing support from the Junction City community, on social media, seeking to recognize the Class of 2020 with some form of ceremony or celebration of their accomplishments to close out the year formally.
Carrie Yale, mother of Dain Yale Jr., and Crystal Rey, mother of Celeste Rey, are working to put together a celebration in June to honor the nearly 300 graduates of Junction City High School.
“We both just feel that we want to honor our students and give them the celebration that they have worked so hard for,” Yale said. “We are not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re not trying to project any kind of negativity towards the high school — our sole intention is just to cater to those who want to participate. We want to be able to host, some kind of celebration for our graduates — they’ve worked so hard. We just we want to showcase them and show them that there’s just so much support in our town.”
The two moms use time, after work, to call, email and reach out to the community for support — venue, donations and more.
“We just want to get the word out there that we are working on this and that there’s anybody in the community that wishes to support us, we would love to have the support of the community,” she said. “Any businesses that would like to donate any kind of items, any monetary, any kind of gifts for the graduates.
The two are in the early stages of the planning process, Yale said, but hope to get some of the details firmed in the next few weeks.”
Yale and Rey do have a solid date in mind.
“The date that we have discussed is June 20, and with the amount of people that we imagine participating, it’s still going to be within the guidelines that are set by the governor,” Yale said. “We don’t wish to do anything that is immoral or put anybody’s health at risk. We plan, if anything changes as far as the guidelines, we plan to still implement those. If there’s still 6-feet of distancing, we have reached out to venues and areas that will accommodate for that exceeded distancing. So, no matter what the rules are we will be prepared for that.”
Yale said graduation is about celebrating the accomplishments of the students, some who are graduating as juniors. She also admitted there has been some negative feedback toward the idea.
“We’ve had a lot of conflicting feedback from people who think it’s just the parents who have this selfish need and desire to watch their children walk across the stage,” she said. “And, it really is much more than that. There’s lots of seniors and juniors, who want to do that themselves. They’ve worked so hard for that — that is a milestone in their life. Some may go on to college and be able to walk again, some may not. So, this may be their only chance to walk cross that stage and hold their head high and say, ‘Look, I did this. I accomplished this, this is mine. And there’s all these people here to support me.’”
Yale understands the school district’s decision to hold a virtual graduation with photos of the graduates being displayed as their name is read. She also understands part of the district’s reasoning for the ceremony due to the number of students affiliated with the military and the chances of those students and respective parents not being present for the occasion.
“I certainly understand that there are a lot of factors that they had to put in place,” she said. “We do wish to honor, any of the students, whether they’re there physically or not. If there’s a parent whose student has left and the mother or father would like to walk across the stage for them, we would love to do that for them. We don’t want to exclude anybody in the celebration that we are planning. Any way that makes sense to any parent or graduate, we wish to include.
“I feel, and I speak for myself, I feel that if they were to change it and still honor the graduation, even if it was at a later date, we would love that,” she added. “That is the main goal is to have the high school and the district honor their students at that time.”
Yale has been in contact with school board members and principals within the district, she said. Her hopes are to include them and others in the celebration.
“We look forward to any kind of support from the community,” she said. “We again aren’t trying to change any minds, we just want to bring in and bring on board the ones that wish to participate.”