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Crater boosters plan to celebrate their grads

While many high school graduations have morphed into low-key virtual affairs this year, Central Point boosters are gearing up for a motorcade meant to knock the socks off Crater High grads.

Despite COVID-19 interference, Central Point School District 6 and the Central Point Chamber of Commerce are planning to celebrate the Crater High School Class of 2020 with what community organizer Debbie Saxbury described as “the biggest show of community support ever seen” in her beloved hometown, with 200-plus graduates parading through town.

The event, to be followed by televised valedictorian speeches and other more traditional components, will kick off at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 3, at Crater High School.

Coordinators expect at least 200 cars and trucks to accommodate the 2020 graduating class.

Tom Rambo, principal at the Crater Academy of Health and Public Service, said district officials couldn’t let graduation pass by without pumping up the pomp and circumstance.

The motorcade will roll past seven District 6 schools, and residents are invited to line up along the route with banners, signs, balloons and whatever else they can come up with. School colors would be an added bonus, and both past and present staff from district schools will line up at area schools.

Local residents are asked to round up their families, even if they don’t have students in the district, and make signs, line up along streets and sidewalks, make banners and flags — while social distancing, of course — and help celebrate the students who graduated during a year that has knocked the world sideways.

Rambo said the event has given students and the district something to be excited about.

“I really think it’s going to go pretty awesome. With how it’s all coming together, it’s like everything else this year. We’ve had to figure things out, and then it all seems to come together perfectly at the last minute,” Rambo said.

“Our timeline gets so compressed, and we have to change things up every time some new guidelines come out.”

Rambo and other district officials have shifted gears and monitored coronavirus-related news. Sports events and rights of passage like prom have been lost, while virus-related programs such as meal sites and online homework have taken center stage.

“It took us a long time to process not being able to have a traditional graduation ceremony. The most exciting five minutes of the school year is when the seniors are lined up outside the stadium and the crowd is super amped and ready to go,” said Rambo.

“That’s the coolest few moments of a kid’s high school career. When we realized we weren’t going to be able to have that, we knew we had to figure out a way to try to replicate that at least to the degree that kids could feel all the anticipation and excitement from friends and relatives and from the community.”

Rambo said district officials were hopeful that parents or a relative could drive students to allow students to focus on enjoying the moment — and avoiding any fender benders. He also hoped students would feel celebrated, successful “and beloved by their community.”

“I’m a really big ceremony and traditions kind of guy,” he said. “This pandemic has brought some negatives, but there have been some positives, and it’s taught people to be flexible and adapt but not to stop living their lives. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. If, a year ago, I’d proposed a parade through the city, I don’t even know how much traction that would have got.”

“I hope all our graduates participate and that this can be a very special time to celebrate their hard work. I think they’ll feel pretty honored as they drive past their elementary schools and see people are cheering for them.

“None of us know how it’s going to turn out, but our community always comes through for our kids.”

Event updates and the route can be seen online at www.facebook.com/CENTRAL-POINT-OREGON-WHATS-HAPPENING-AROUND-TOWN-122246884471087/ and www.facebook.com/CentralPointChamber/

Reach freelance writer Buffy Pollock at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

Mail Tribune file photoCrater High Class of 2019 Graduation.{ }