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2020 graduation to be a huge community hug

A dozen signs supporting local grads stand near the Warrior statue at the four-way stop. (Cindy Yingst)
Thursday, May 21, 2020

A communitywide celebration honoring Warrenton High School’s 2020 graduating class is in the works.

Parents, teachers and local business leaders are organizing an event that will abide by social distancing requirements in which the entire town can participate.

“We are working on a plan for graduation that will be held on the original graduation date of June 5,” Principal Rod Heyen told school board members. “We will be working on trying to use as many of the traditional aspects of a normal graduation ceremony, with the new social distancing guidelines that ODE (Oregon Department of Education) has given schools.”

School Board Chairwoman Debbie Morrow also began reaching out to community members and families.

Ideas include a parade of the seniors in cars and goodie bags filled with encouraging letters, artwork and, perhaps, treats or gifts.

“I think the kids have processed it through better than us parents,” Morrow said. “I’ve cried a bucket of tears over this.”

Her son, Jake, is a 2020 graduate with a promising athletic career.

Last year’s baseball team had competed for the state 3A division championship, losing the title to LaPine. The 2020 WHS team had many of the same champion players, with just one or two graduating in 2019.

“They were hungry; they were ready for it,” Morrow said. “Jake, Devin Jackson, Austin Little, they’d all been playing together since second or third grade. All of the hard work was for this year and, to just have it taken away, breaks my heart.”

On the other hand, the last time her son wore a Warrior uniform was at the 3A championship last year, she said. “If that’s the last time he gets to wear it, that’s a pretty good memory.”

Seniors involved in any extracurricular activities -- band, choir, drama and other sports -- have all lost so much, she acknowledged.

The high school has been running senior spotlights on its Facebook and Instagram pages, which has given individual seniors some recognition, Principal Heyen said.

Assistant Principal Ian O’Brien has organized “Be the Light” events on Friday nights at the football field and on Facebook live.

“They have been well received and popular among our community, near and far,” Heyen said.

How to help

Send a card or write a letter of encouragement to seniors, which will be reproduced and given to each graduate.

Children can create pictures with well wishes, which will be reproduced and given to each graduate.

Businesses can donate 55 small gifts, such as AA batteries, key chains, lip balm, adult coloring books, coupons for a free taco or game.

Make 55 small craft projects – such as a Christmas ornament with each graduate’s name. Donate cash that organizers can use to purchase or make gifts.

Drop off or mail any of the above items to the Warrenton-Hammond School District office, 820 S.W. Cedar Ave., Warrenton OR 97146. Make checks out to the school district.

Sponsor a graduate for $25 in a special edition that will run June 5 in The Columbia Press with each graduate’s photo. Info: 503-861-3331.

School board President Debbie Morrow

Warrenton High School Principal Rod Heyen


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