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Patriot HS Staff Surprises Seniors with Class of 2020 Yard Signs

| May 7, 2020 | 0 Comments | Education

Senior Sean Oh receives his Patriot Seniors sign on May 5, 2020.

Senor Sean Oh was already wearing his Patriot Class of 2020 t-shirt when Patriot track coach and attendance officer Calinda Hawkins, greeted him at his doorstep.

She pointed towards the large Patriot Class of 2020 sign she had just placed on his lawn. It read, “ We Love our PATRIOT SENIORS,” on the front, and “PATRIOT PIONEERS Class of 2020” on the other side.

Hawkins told Oh it was a small gesture the Patriot staff was offering to celebrate their graduates. They are sorry their senior year had been cut short, but they wanted them to know they are appreciated, and they wanted to extend their best wishes for the future.

Approximately 1,200 Patriot High School seniors were surprised with yard signs, May 5, through a quickly organized effort. It was an idea Patriot Principal. Dr. Michael Bishop presented back in January, but the effort became much more important in light of the coronavirus and the subsequent closing of schools, explained Assistant Principal Delores Lucas.

“We wanted to show our appreciation for our students and how much we love and care for them. The whole idea that they haven’t been in school- they have to be really frustrated about not being able to graduate, June 2nd, not being able to spend time with their friends. We just wanted to have a little gesture to tell them how much they are loved and cared about,” Lucas said.

Bishop said he found out about it over winter break. It was something the high school where his sister works in Ohio began doing annually. “I thought it would be a great idea for Patriot and then the coronavirus hit, and so the implementation of it became a question,” said Bishop.

But it was not a problem, because plenty of people volunteered their time and expertise to make it happen.

“I worked with Dennis Robinson and Bill Goswellen at the print shop at PWCS. They said, ‘yeah, we can do the signs. It’s not a problem.’ I sent them the designs and we put them together.”

John Lavely and Terri Smith hand out signs to staff volunteers.

Secretary Terri Smith and Director of Security John Lavely were instrumental. “They came up with the idea to use the bus routes,” said Bishop. They worked with his secretarial staff, including Michelle Kincaid, Armenta Perry, and Diana Bicknell. “They took it and ran with it,” Bishop said, coordinating it in just a week and a half.

And it was a secret endeavor kept from the seniors and their parents so that everyone would be surprised.

Then to execute the plan, 60 staff members including teachers, administrators and support staff, met Tuesday morning outside the school to collect signs and receive their delivery routes. Most wore red Patriot shirts and facemasks and made sure to stand six feet apart. They were happy to see their colleagues in person and participate in an effort to celebrate their seniors.

Many were senior teachers who felt those students deserved an appropriate sendoff for the culmination of 13 years of work throughout their student careers.

Jillian Rife receives a ‘PATRIOT SENIORS’ sign at her front door.

Many seniors came to the door sleepy-eyed or in their pajamas, but they were surprised and appreciative to receive the signs. In some cases, parents or siblings graciously accepted the gifts. Those not home would arrive home to find a surprise on their front lawns.

Oh, who was happy to demonstrate his Pioneers’ pride, plans to study kinesiology sports medicine, in the fall at George Mason University.

Senior Jillian Rife of Gainesville was also excited to receive a sign from Patriot. She too wore a 2020 t-shirt. Rife said she was accepted to Bridgewater College and plans to study business administration. She’s looking forward to returning to the classroom.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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