Wayland community unites to celebrate the class of 2020

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Fatma Sayeh

Senior Fatma Sayeh poses in front of her decorations, prior to her celebration. "In addition to seeing my friends drive by, I loved seeing so many faces that I hadn't seen in awhile and to even see how excited my family was for the parade was really cute," Sayeh said.

By Christina Taxiarchis, Wayland High School

The Wayland community has come together to participate in weekly parades celebrating the class of 2020. Each Saturday, from April 25 onward, WHS seniors and their families caravan around town to honor and acknowledge the class of 2020’s accomplishments.

On March 12, the class of 2020 unknowingly attended their last day of high school. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, WHS seniors have lost a traditional graduation along with many other activities that they looked forward to since the start of their high school careers.

Wayland mother, Kate Macdonald, helped organize weekly parades for the class of 2020. Every Saturday throughout May and into June, a group of seniors are assigned to decorate their front yards and sit with their families, awaiting the line of cars who pass by, cheering and honking.

Senior Emma Levy is one of the many seniors who participate in the celebratory parades.

“I think the idea for these parades was very creative and a great idea,” Levy said. “We were all so upset about losing what is supposed to be the best part of our high school experience, so trying to make the best of this time is what we have to do.”

Although the class of 2020 will not be able to properly celebrate their graduation this upcoming June, the parades help celebrate their achievements and efforts.

“I don’t think there is anything that can make up for the loss of our high school graduation, but it is for sure making the best of what we have and what we can do,” Levy said. “I really enjoy participating in the parades because it is a way for our grade to come together during these unpredictable times. It is really fun to see how everyone gets so into the parades, and everybody is out with their family celebrating.”

Similar to Levy, senior Stone Harris also enjoys participating in the weekly parades.

“I definitely enjoy participating in the parades,” Harris said. “It’s been really tough being separated from all my friends during a time when we’re supposed to be celebrating what we’ve accomplished, and the parades have done a great job assuaging those feelings for me.”

Prior to the parade, partakers make sure to decorate their cars with streamers, signs and balloons. While passing by a senior’s house, most cars do their best to celebrate as loudly as they can.

“I decorate the outside of the car beforehand, and then during the parade everyone, is honking and cheering,” Levy said. “Many seniors have their parents drive the car, so that we can stand out the windows and roofs cheering each other on.”

Likewise to Levy, senior Fatma Sayeh enjoys decorating her car and cheering for her fellow classmates.

“I stand out of the sun roof and cheer while someone from my family drives and honks,” Sayeh said.“Sometimes I drive if I need a break. There is a lot of honking and cheering for sure. I also decorate my car with ‘2020’ signs, ‘go seniors’ signs and streamers.”

Sayeh was celebrated on April 25, the first weekend of the parades.

“In addition to seeing my friends drive by, I loved seeing so many faces that I hadn’t seen in awhile, and even to see how excited my family was for the parade was really cute,” Sayeh said. “It’s so fun to see everyone so happy, so energetic and positive. The energy is so uplifting that you forget about all corona-related things for a few hours.”

Although the parade may not amount to a traditional graduation, it does allow for seniors to be celebrated safely.

“I think the parades are a great idea because they’ve made it possible to safely bring our community together during this strange time,” Harris said. “While I don’t think the parade totally makes up for the loss of a graduation, I do think that it is a step in the right direction.”

The parade isn’t exclusive to the class of 2020 and their family members, as the whole community comes out to participate.

“My favorite part of the parade has to be the overwhelming participation from various members of the community,” Harris said. “It’s been really cool to see parents and families that don’t have any seniors come out to support our class.”

In the end, the parades provide the seniors with a way to connect with their community and their peers whom many haven’t seen since school closed.

“My favorite part about the parades is seeing how everyone is coming together and truly enjoying it themselves,” Levy said. “Everybody decorates their cars, and everyone is high energy, cheering for all three hours of the parade, making sure every senior feels honored and celebrated.”

Without the weekly parades, the class of 2020 wouldn’t be able to celebrate until quarantine ended.

“[A] big thanks to Kate MacDonald for putting it all together,” Sayeh said. “It truly means a lot to every senior and all the parents.”

This story was originally published on Wayland Student Press on May 15, 2020.