Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, members of Upper Arlington High School's class of 2020 did not end their senior year the way they planned when they graduated May 24, but they still received a sendoff.
At 10 a.m. May 24 – the same day Upper Arlington Schools leaders also presented a virtual commencement ceremony – district spokeswoman Karen Truett said about 430 graduates in vehicles began a celebratory parade by heading east on Ridgeview Road past the high school, progressing north on Mount Holyoke Road and turning onto Trentwood Road. From there, they went south on Northwest Boulevard and ended the parade at Lane Avenue.
Hundreds of family and friends cheered the students.
"I thought it was so much fun. ... I really enjoyed going down that parade route one last time to celebrate graduation and see all my classmates hanging out on the top of their cars," said senior Abby Hendershot, who plans to attend Florida Gulf Coast University to study marine science.
Hendershot rode with her parents and her corgi, Armstrong, in her mother's Acura SUV.
"(Armstrong) was the star of the parade – everyone loved seeing him," Hendershot said. "He was hanging out the window, and he was happy."
Senior Riley Kuehn, who was a member of a committee planning the parade, said she was pleasantly surprised with how well the event transpired.
"It turned out way better than I expected," said Kuehn, who plans to attend Dickinson College in Pennsylvania to study international business and play lacrosse. "I wasn't feeling like it was going to be that great with what we talked about on our Zoom (videoconferencing call). But once it happened, it was really fun and a really great turnout – definitely more than I was expecting."
Senior Jacob Leve, who plans to attend Ashland to study exercise science and play baseball, agreed.
"It was a cool atmosphere," he said. "It was definitely different, but I enjoyed it a lot."
Senior Adrienne Wachtman said she was a little skeptical at first about how well the parade would go down. But when she rode on the roof of a Honda SUV with her family along the parade route that day, she was blown away.
"Personally, I think the parade was better than any ceremony I could have imagined," said Wachtman, who plans to attend Case Western Reserve University to study biomedical engineering, play basketball and run track. "We were celebrated for 15 minutes on our own, and in a ceremony you wait for your name to be called for two minutes, and the ceremonies can be dragged out sometimes. I was super happy with how it turned out, and getting to see everybody from my class do the same thing was really, really fun."