Editor’s note: This is part of a series on graduation in Cache Valley during the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’ve heard about the Magic Bus of 1960s fame. Well, Cache High School Principal Sheri Hansen is planning a weeklong, valleywide tour on what you might call the Miracle Bus.
The alternative-school principal describes Cache High as a “miracle” for its ability to motivate kids who don’t fit in the traditional school system. To mark the graduation of 110 students this spring, she’s loading up a small group of school personnel for a bus trip to each graduate’s home to hand out diploma covers and personally offer congratulations.
The COVID-19 pandemic and social-distancing guidelines have forced schools everywhere to be creative with their 2020 graduations. Other high schools in Cache Valley are planning staggered walk-throughs, drive-throughs and online presentations to recognize graduates. But proving true to its mission as an alternative school, Cache High decided to do things a little differently.
“I just hate any of them to be forgotten,” Hansen said, explaining she thinks the bus tour will add a special touch to the students’ life milestone.
Cache High serves students from around the entire valley, and the bus tour has been broken into segments for each day next week, running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“There will be only 10 teachers on the bus, a school board member and myself,” Hansen said. “We’ll stop at each graduate’s home, get off and shake their hands, give them a diploma cover, their yearbook and all their gear, do a little whoo-hoo to celebrate, get back on the bus and go to the next house.”
Hansen said the bus contingent will be wearing masks and gloves, and protective measures have been suggested for students as well. Any teachers or board members who don’t want to have close interaction will simply stay on the bus and wave to the students, who will be meeting the principal outside their dwellings.
Students not wanting to participate can opt out, and those who have signed up for the graduation visits were given a timeframe this week to pick up their caps and gowns.
Parent Elsbeth Palmer, whose son, Matthew, will be graduating this year, praised Hansen for going the extra mile for her students.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s a personal touch,” Palmer said. “Since the kids can’t all graduate together, it shows she really cares. All the teachers care.”
Palmer said her son finished with a 4.0 grade-point average after getting off to a disastrous start at another high school in the valley. He finished all of his high school credits a semester early but continued to attend Bridgerland Tech through Cache High this spring so he could graduate with his classmates.
“Matthew’s really sad that he can’t go in and have everyone sign his yearbook,” Palmer said. “The teachers there are just so in tune with the kids. It’s the best thing that ever happened to him.”