The Solon City School District is no exception to the sweeping changes caused by the COVID-19 outbreak when it comes to celebrating High School seniors at the close of the school year.

While the age of social distancing limits what the district can do to bid its seniors farewell, that’s not stopping the community from letting the seniors go out with a bang.

The Solon Board of Education approved 414 seniors for the graduating Class of 2020 Monday night, and with that comes a lineup of events dedicated to those very students concluding in a drive-by parade.

“It’s a very bitter-sweet time,” acting Superintendent Fred Bolden said. “But I can tell you that our kids are resilient, and I’m very proud of the work that they have done to get this far and be this successful. I know that they are going to do amazing things, and this is going to be a marking point in history that they were a part of, and it’s going to be with them for the rest of their lives.”

While Solon High School seniors won’t walk across the stage at the State Theatre, thanks to the rigorous planning of Principal Erin Short, Mr. Bolden said, the seniors will still have an experience to come together to celebrate their achievement with the Pomp and Circumstance Graduation Parade the week of May 28.

The parade will not replace the Class of 2020 graduation, which will be virtual and posted on June 11, Mr. Bolden clarified.

With the help of coordination with Solon fire and safety departments, students will parade in vehicles with their parents around the high school. Mr. Bolden described a path through tunnels made by staff and school buses with music and banners. Starting down SOM Center Road, the parade will culminate in front of the high school, where the vehicles will be staggered by groups of five so students can receive their diplomas, “and then they will drive forth and head on into the next phase of their lives.”

Leading up to this blow-out event, the district has already begun replacing other milestone events.

“It’s sad, again, because our seniors aren’t getting those traditional events,” Mr. Bolden said of senior prom, projects, signing day or graduation in a traditional sense. “We are replacing many of those events with virtualized events.”

Already last week, the district had senior door decorations, where senior families decorated their doors and windows in honor of their soon-to-be graduates, and tomorrow, the district will celebrate Future Friday.

“Every kid has submitted a picture of themselves in their next steps along with describing what they’re doing that we’re going to be posting as a virtual presentation,” Mr. Bolden said. “Kind of mimicking that senior signing day process that we did before.”

Next week Solon schools will have their “Light Up the Night,” where the high school will light up the stadium every night and show pictures of seniors as well as honoring students that received scholarships and other awards.

“We really have an exciting collection of events to help celebrate this Class of 2020 in a way that is both safe and well-deserved by a bunch of kids that have worked really hard,” Mr. Bolden said.

Sam Cottrill started reporting for the Times in February 2019 and covers Auburn, Bainbridge, Bentleyville and Chagrin, Kenston, Solon and West Geauga schools. She graduated from Kent State University in 2018 with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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