Santa Ynez Valley Union High School holds car parade for graduates
Valley streets were buzzing with excitement and enthusiasm on a cloudy Friday morning as family and friends got ready to celebrate the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School graduating class of 2020.
This creative version of a socially distant senior celebration took the form of a car parade, passing through Buellton, Solvang, Santa Ynez, Ballard and Los Olivos before arriving at the school’s football stadium.
The graduates’ vehicles were decked out with chalk, balloons, streamers and photos. As they cruised through the Valley streets, they were basically celebrities waving to their fans, some even perched out of the sun roof of their car.
“To watch a really community-based effort to make all of this happen in this time to support our grads has really been something to watch unfold,” said Scott Cory, SYVU’s superintendent. “We’re hoping that this day for them will be something that they’ll remember.”
SYVU faculty and staff anxiously awaited the arrival of the parade in the football stadium at the high school. Once the first graduate entered the field, it was a burst of flag-waving, confetti-throwing, bubble-blowing, cheerful pride from all the teachers and families.
Debbie Goldsmith, a special education teacher at SYVU, was especially delighted at the students’ arrival.
“While we can’t have a traditional send off, this celebration is still joyous, celebratory, and conveys our feelings of pride and confidence in the graduating class’s future,” she said.
Ms. Goldsmith had one student graduating this year, Kevin Reyes, who she’s taught since he was in fourth grade. Choking back tears, she said she was thrilled to share in his joyous day, and “finally thank him for all the work he did.”
Graduating seniors drove up to the center of the football field to a stage, where they could get out of their cars and pose for a photo, while their name was read over a microphone. Because the school plans to replace their football field, this provided a unique opportunity for the cars to actually drive up onto the turf.
“This will leave that mental mark for [the students] to let them know that the school was supporting you, the community was supporting you and everybody was behind you on this one,” Mr. Cory said.
He added that the school is still holding out for an in-person ceremony on the tentative date of July 24, but for those who won’t be able to make that date, the car parade will hopefully still leave a lasting memory for the SYVU seniors.