BANDON — It may not have been the traditional pomp and circumstance, but the Bandon High School Class of 2020 was sent off in style nonetheless. 

On Saturday, June 6, at 3:30 p.m., most of the 44 graduating seniors and their families started lining up in their cars and trucks decorated with posters of each student and celebratory streamers and balloons in the student parking lot on Eighth Street behind the high school, assisted by various school district teachers and staff, to start the ceremonial drive-through graduation exercises. The line proceeded to the BHS gym, where each student exited the vehicle to receive their diploma from Superintendent Doug Ardiana, have their name announced by BHS teacher Lori Groves, get their photo take by School Board co-chairman Angela Cardas and receive an armful of goodies from Project Graduation, given out by BHS Principal Sabrina Belletti and Athletic Director Josh Davies.

It was truly a group effort. 

After receiving their diplomas, the students hopped back into their vehicles, and were driven down to the end of Ninth Street by Dairy Queen, where the parade began only after every student had received their diploma. The seniors then traveled the usual holiday parade route down U.S. Highway 101 and through Old Town.

Thankfully, said many, the threatening rain clouds that earlier in the day had released buckets of water, held off until the parade was over and students were entering the dry Harbor Lights Middle School gym to have a group photo taken and be gifted with piles of useful and fun gifts donated by Project Graduation, including flat screen televisions, barbecue grills, blenders, crock pots, sheet sets, towels, dishes and pots and pans, along with gift certificates and much more. 

Many of the seniors were also awarded with generous scholarships totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, both from local groups and from the post-secondary schools they plan to attend. See related story for the list of scholarships and future plans for the seniors. 

The students missed much of their last semester of school on campus, though they were successful at distance learning, according to Ardiana. They also missed the usual senior class activities including their final prom, their senior trip, year-end OSAA sports games and speech, band and choir activities and competitions and Project Graduation celebrations. 

But the seniors were as joyful and excited as if they hadn't missed a thing — possible more so, as they reunited with classmates for a final day of memories. 

"The future can be scary. It can be intimidating. And I’m sure all of you already know how stressful it can be to think, plan, and worry about what’s to come," said class valeditoran Jessica Tittle in a recorded speech. "However, what we fail to notice is that the future is really really exciting at the same time. It brings new experiences and lessons and people that will ultimately shape our life and make us who we’re meant to be.

"Don’t get me wrong, the future isn’t all pink ponies and glitter. There will be a lot of painful life lessons, but let’s not dwell on the misery to come. Let’s talk about the exciting parts of life instead! ... Go ahead and make some mistakes, have fun, and ultimately enjoy this time of your life because you currently hold the power to make your future whatever you want it to be!

"So, trust the process, embrace the uncertainty, and enjoy the beauty of becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be. Congratulations class of 2020! It’s been a pleasure going to school alongside all of you and I wish the best for all of you."

Salutatorian Becky Yu's speech was also recorded, as was class president Aero Franklin's.

"For the past 13 years, we’ve waited for this moment," Yu said. 

"... Over the past four years, we have seen class after class graduate and it’s finally our turn. Of course, today isn’t really what we expected after four years of hard work. ... After tonight, a lot of us are leaving, but what we aren’t conceptualizing is that tonight is the last night, for a little while, that most of us will be in the same place together, but in our case, a drive-through graduation and community parade.

" ... To be honest, this will be a memorable high school graduation, and while this isn’t ideal for all of us, I’m thankful that we are allowed to gather “together-ish” to celebrate our successes that we have achieved in the past four years.

" ... Now we won’t get our final years of sports or activities, the chance to stress over our senior project presentations, walk Ocean Crest’s halls for the last time as a student, plan and carry-out with our senior prank, write messages on every student’s cars, attend the senior trip or the all-night party, and have a common graduation.

"But instead, we ended our high school careers by thinking that we would return to school within two weeks. So, tonight is where we would normally reflect on how our high school experiences have shaped us the past four years and the memories that we’ve created, but instead, we are reminded of what we had missed out on.

"... Having an in-person graduation is something that many of us have taken for granted. High schools across the nation have been forced to host a virtual graduation or even forced to cancel or postpone. Because of this, on the behalf of the Bandon High School Class of 2020, I’d like to thank the administration for an in-person graduation ceremony, and everything that they’ve helped us with in the past four years."

At Monday's regular School Board meeting, Belletti and Davies commented about how smoothly the drive-through graduation and parade went on Saturday. 

"Now they want a parade every year!" Belletti said. 

To watch the entire speeches or to view the graduation video, visit the following sites: 

BHS graduation video: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=857824774712129

BHS Class of 2020 valedictorian, salutatorian and class president speeches: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOz5y8s-4xI&feature=youtu.be

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