Notre Dame's "reverse parade"

Vehicles make their way around the campus of Notre Dame Regional High School near Kim St. Cin, guidance office manager at the school, during a "Friday night lights" senior drive-through event Friday, May 1, 2020, at the Cape Girardeau school.
Jacob Wiegand ~

Friday night was supposed to be Notre Dame’s prom, capping off “Senior Week” at the Cape Girardeau high school.

In a universe cruelly changed by COVID-19, a contingency plan was put in place. Instead of dancing, verboten due to social distancing requirements, the school turned the unfortunate circumstance into a truly memorable occasion.

At 8:20 p.m., or 2020 in military time, no fewer than 56 school faculty and staff stood 15-to-30 feet apart holding signs wishing well soon-to-be graduates.

They made a giant ring around the soccer, baseball and softball fields and the tennis court to say goodbye to the 142 seniors.

“It’s the largest graduating class in school history,” said Paul Unterreiner, Notre Dame’s dean of student activities and boys head basketball coach.

As a farewell, the lights of the athletic fields were turned on in salute.

A giant human ring was made around the soccer, baseball and softball fields and the tennis court to say goodbye to the 12th graders, who were all invited to come and drive the oval maintenance path around the buildings.

“The school came up with this (idea) and it’s reassuring to know the teachers didn’t forget us,” said Madeline Hulshof, 18, senior class president, who will attend the University of Missouri-Columbia in the fall.

Senior swimmer Nicholas Hux, who is headed to Florida State University, said the event was “pretty special.

“It was super cool to see all the teachers after the long quarantine,” said Hux, 18, a member of student council.

“It was a sort of reverse parade,” said Notre Dame athletic director Jeff Graviett, who assisted with the planning.

“We want our seniors to know we love them and care about them.” he added.

It is reported Notre Dame will hold a virtual graduation on the previously announced commencement date of May 17.

Assuming COVID restrictions permit, a regular in-person graduation is planned for sometime in June.

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