Turners Falls High School seniors surprised with parade

  • Amanda Rivera plants a Thunder sign in a Turners Falls High School senior’s front yard in the Patch section of Turners Falls on Friday. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Vehicles parade around the Patch section of Turners Falls on Friday during a parade around the school district to leave lawn signs on seniors’ front lawns to celebrate graduation. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Turners Falls High School Principal Joanne Menard, center, and other masked volunteers plan their parade around the school district to leave lawn signs on seniors’ front lawns to celebrate graduation. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 4/24/2020 6:47:34 PM
Modified: 4/24/2020 6:47:22 PM

MONTAGUE — The Class of 2020 is grappling with what has become an unusual graduation season, due to restrictions on large public gatherings that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seniors at Turners Falls High School, probably like at most other high schools, are reportedly less than thrilled.

“They’re heartbroken,” said Jen Luciano, a seventh-grade teacher at Turners Falls High School and Great Falls Middle School. “This is an exciting time of year, and they’re missing out.”

What will become of traditional year-end events, like prom and the graduation ceremony, is not yet clear. School administrators have mentioned it may be possible to hold them later this summer, but can’t say for sure yet.

In the meantime, school staff came up with a way to recognize graduating seniors without a social gathering.

On Friday afternoon, about 40 school staff members, police officers and community volunteers held a surprise parade that stopped at the homes of all 49 graduating seniors — spread across Montague, Gill and Erving, plus a few in Greenfield and Northfield — to drop off a yard sign for the student.

The parade was mostly organized by Luciano, Dean of Students Mike Duprey, Athletic Director Adam Graves and School Resource Officer Dan Miner.

“We wanted to do something unique and special for them,” said Principal Joanne Menard.

Organizing work began about two weeks ago, Luciano said, with designing and printing the 49 yard signs. Earlier this week, volunteers figured out the routes for the parades and tested them to be sure they would be navigable with long lines of vehicles.

On Friday afternoon, volunteers gathered at Turners Falls High School, and split into two separate groups. There were two routes, each of which took about 70 to 80 minutes. The routes eventually linked together for the last stretch through Turners Falls.

No one outside of the volunteers had been told about the parade, Luciano said, so they weren’t sure that all the students would be home. Even if some weren’t, she said, at least they would come home to the yard sign.

As the parade approached a student’s house, the drivers switched on their lights and leaned into their horns, and the police cars turned on their sirens. Even if the student wasn’t home, whoever happened to be in the neighborhood couldn’t have missed it.

“I think it is so cool, on such short notice,” Luciano said, “that so many people will rally around the kids.”

Reach Max Marcus at mmarcus@recorder.com or 413-930-4231.


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