Editor’s note: This is part of a series on graduation in Cache Valley during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ridgeline High and parents have teamed up to print out hundreds of roadside signs with the names and faces of this year’s senior class.
“Because it’s kind of part of a mental health thing that kids still feel like we know that they’re out there, we’re rooting for them, we’re proud of them,” Assistant Principal DeAnna Stallings said of the project along 550 North in Millville.
After in-person classes and events were cancelled as a COVID-19 precaution earlier this year, traditions and set procedures during this transitional time in young people’s lives have been thrown into chaos. The signs are one way to recognize students who won’t be walking in a graduation ceremony or attending year-end dances.
The school’s counselors were considering recognizing students through yard signs when they learned a parent group was already planning the roadside signs as part of an event series called RHS Senior Friday Nights in May 2020.
“We just want them to know that … we love them, and that they haven’t been forgotten and that they do deserve to be recognized,” said Sannette Webb, one of the organizers of the event series. “It’s a big accomplishment to graduate, and this is a tricky time.”
Other events in the series include families of seniors decorating their doors, a night to “taco-bout” favorite moments over discounted takeout at Elements, Cafe Sabor or El Toro Viejo, and a day to drive by and pick up swag bags.
Ridgeline Counselor Tara Johnson said the school was happy to pay for the signs.
“Normally we use some of our budget during the year to pay for we do a college decision day celebration and like a senior awards assembly and that sort of thing,” Johnson said. “And with the changes in social distancing requirements, we weren’t able to do those celebrations in the way that we normally do, so we were looking for ways in which to honor and recognize our seniors, and we thought that the signs were a perfect way to do that.”
Johnson said counselors want to make sure seniors’ academic and mental wellbeing is being looked after, but social distancing precautions make that challenging.
“I think we’ve definitely seen students feeling less connected,” Johnson said. “There’s generally anxiety, I think, about students moving on and not knowing what to expect, but I think that’s definitely more this year. The thing is, it’s been hard because I feel like the ways in which they would normally reach out have been reduced or there are added challenges.”