Graduation 2020: COVID can't stop this parade

Quakertown community celebrates QCHS 2020 Graduation Parade
Posted on 06/17/2020
Cars with graduates aboard roll slowly down Park Ave. during Quakertown Community High School's Graduation Parade.

By Gary Weckselblatt

A senior class that lost three months of school socializing, a season of sports, its prom, plays and musical performances received a celebratory sendoff limited only by COVID-19 pandemic guidelines.

“This virus has taught me so much, and I truly think we’ve all learned some lifelong lessons from it. We know we aren’t alone. The feeling of unity that has come from the loss of so many important things is a feeling that I guarantee no other class has ever felt. We feel that unity here, across the nation, and throughout the world. Through these hardships, we were able to find comfort in our loved ones, and the support of those people has brought us this far.”

 Nolan Hibsman, Class President

Click here for a Commencement video

Click here for a six-page pullout section of the Graduation Parade

With brilliant weather that matched the collective disposition of these 418 seniors, Quakertown Community High School held a special parade to show its appreciation for the Class of 2020 on Tuesday, June 16th.

“This pandemic allowed us to spend time with our families before we head off to college, enter the workforce, or join the military. And I’m not saying there is no such thing as too much time with family because there is, especially with little siblings. But, instead of only looking at the negatives of this situation I urge you all to try and think positive.”

Shawn Newswanger, Class Vice President

Principal Mattias Van’t Hoenderdaal and his administrative team met several times with student leaders to develop a plan that gave this class that lost so much a positive memory as they take the next step in their life’s journey.

“We will undoubtedly be telling our children of our ill-fated senior years, yet we will also recount the unprecedented celebration we had as a class and, more importantly, the rebirth we saw in the world as if we witnessed a New Renaissance. Changes are coming, so we must prepare mentally and comprehend the monumental events around us. The future is ours to mold and shape.”

Jake Berton, Class Officer-Public Relations

Mr. V and high school administrators delivered graduation caps and gowns by fire truck and school buses to student’s residences. During the first week of June, video production teacher Lincoln Kaar staged and filmed the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony - one graduate at a time. It was a lengthy filming process that included all components of a graduation ceremony, including student, class sponsor, principal and School Board president speeches. The link to view Graduation 2020 has been placed on the QCSD.org website.

“Because of this virus I have seen the community come together to support us seniors, in these unsettling times. And for that, I am forever grateful. Also, I am thankful to all the teachers and staff at Quakertown who helped lift our spirits whether it was just sending a simple email to see how we were all doing or putting together a video to cheer us up. But most of all I would like to thank my family for putting up with me while I’m locked inside their house with nothing better to do then annoy them and ask complex questions like where’s the remote and if almond butter is real.”

Elliot Uhrich, Class Secretary

So even though the pandemic prevented the walk across the big stage at Stabler Arena with its huge screen, the Class of 2020 was part of a motorcade led by Quakertown Borough Police and, hopefully, heard their names announced as two screens along Park Ave. flashed their graduation photos.

“As a result of this ongoing pandemic, the conclusion to our senior year came by so fast, and with this we must keep going. Keep fighting for what we believe in. Keep pushing for progress. Keep moving to the next challenge. We just have to keep on rolling. No matter what life throws your way, you can look back at what we’ve come through as a class, and figure it out.”

Barrett Reiss, Class Treasurer

Classroom teachers, who quickly transformed to online educators for three months, took their places along the motorcade route and waved to students and families. Borough residents also lined parts of Park Ave. and Juniper Street in addition to Fifth and Eleventh Streets while the administration and School Board members had socially distanced seating in front of the high school. As Superintendent Dr. Bill Harner said in a recent blog, “The QCHS Class of 2020 will have an incredible story to share for generations to come!”

“Regardless of the ways your lives have been affected, you have endured with resilience and here you are today. You are amazing!”

Brenda Sharp, Class Advisor

Early feedback from the community has been awesome. They loved the parade! Many suggested making it a new tradition. Hmmm.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at gweckselblatt@qcsd.org.

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