This year marks Grandview Heights High School's 105th commencement ceremony.
Celebrating our seniors to commemorate their 13 years of hard work and dedication is a long-standing tradition in our schools and our community.
While the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic created challenges for our traditional graduation activities, celebrating our seniors and providing them with as memorable a graduation experience as possible was our top priority.
I want to thank Robert Brown, our Grandview Heights High School principal, who tirelessly worked with a committee of students, teachers and parents to plan our virtual commencement ceremony, which served as the culmination of several virtual celebrations
We hope you enjoyed watching the ceremony at 4 p.m. May 24 on the district's YouTube channel.
Although it was not the traditional ceremony we all hoped it would be, it was a unique, special and unforgettable way to honor our graduates.
We used our district YouTube platform to virtually host some of our other favorite Grandview Heights High School senior events, as well.
The scholarship awards were virtual this year and acknowledged the tremendous achievements of this class. Forty-two seniors together received $140,384 in local scholarships given by generous donors and organizations right here in our community. In all, the class of 2020 was offered $9,992,823 in college scholarships, of which $3,358,353 was accepted.
The academic signing ceremony and Baccalaureate service also were observed virtually and released via YouTube.
Using our Facebook and Twitter pages proved to be a great way to broadcast the accomplishments of the class of 2020.
Social media Senior Spotlight posts allowed our graduates to share their activities, interests and college or career plans as well as recognize our winter and spring athletes, vocal and instrumental musicians and artists who were unable to participate in spring activities as planned.
Seniors created two heartfelt videos to express gratitude to their teachers, reflect on their friendships and look ahead to the future. Teachers and staff members also created messages for seniors in a video titled "Dear Class of 2020."
All of these virtual ceremonies and videos can be viewed at ghschools.org.
While it was necessary for many events to be virtual, other events received a personal touch.
It was heartwarming to see the many other ways our students, staff, parents and community came together to honor these accomplished young people during this special time.
Our parents worked hard to find alternative ways to support our seniors and ensure important traditions were observed.
For example, our PTO sponsored Adopt a Senior Day, whereby younger students and staff members wrote personal letters to seniors. Parents personally delivered "GHHS 2020 GRAD" yard signs, cookies and T-shirts to our seniors.
Ice Cream and Taco Day was a nice surprise thanks to the generosity of Dairy Queen, Taco Bell and Qdoba -- especially with their businesses also impacted by COVID-19.
Cap and gown drop-off and the senior breakfast both were a success -- and unlike any other in years past. Thanks go out to our teachers who personally delivered caps and gowns, DK Diner doughnuts and the Senior Supplemental to every senior.
Senior Service Day is a valued and traditional part of the Grandview Heights High School graduation experience. This year, the PTO organized the opportunity for our seniors to volunteer at Heart to Heart Food Pantry at First Community Church in Marble Cliff.
Working in shifts, 28 students helped pack and then load cars with food, proving that it is completely possible to do some good and help others while wearing masks and gloves and practicing social distancing.
Banners celebrating our seniors are displayed along Grandview Avenue on the fence going up the hill that borders Wyman Woods. A huge thank you goes out to our senior parent group for making this happen.
I know I speak for the entire student body, all of our staff, the school board and our graduates' families when I say that my heart aches for the class of 2020.
But thanks to the incredible energy and enthusiasm of our staff, parents and community, the class of 2020 received the meaningful and celebratory recognition they deserve -- and that makes my heart full.
Andy Culp is superintendent of Grandview Heights Schools.