I have always loved a good parade, but this one beat them all. During this car parade, I had a bird’s-eye view to watch the Briarcliff High School Class of 2020 overcome the dispiriting COVID-19.
I’m sure other communities this spring have enjoyed similar experiences, so see if this sounds familiar…
As we began lining up, I turned to look out our car’s back window, painted in blue: “BHS 2020 SENIOR COLLEGE BOUND.” Behind us was a car covered in streamers and balloons. Then another … and another … until I could see no farther past the bend in the road.
Car windows were graffitied with college names. Collegiate banners were proudly unfurled. Balloons floated everywhere: orange and blue and every other color of the college destinations ahead, from BInghamton and Cornell to Holy Cross and Delaware. From Rhode Island and Georgia Tech to USC and Kenyon.
In each of the cars was the story of a socially–distanced, college-bound senior. Great new things waited for them, just around that next corner.
The first car moved. Then the honking began and kids were popping out sunroofs and leaning out windows. The parade of cars curled out to a main thoroughfare. That‘s when I saw it! “Congrats BHS Bears Class of 2020!” There was our community! The school mascot running up & down the sidewalk, waving the gigantic, blue “B” flag.
RELIEVED & HOPEFUL
We saw crowds of people holding supportive signs, little kids sitting in SUV tailgates, older people in chairs, all wearing the all-too–familiar blue masks. Like other car-riding moms of seniors, I felt a joyful emotion sweep over me. The community was helping us to feel better, relieved & hopeful.
These people were here to cheer and encourage a group of kids who didn’t get to see a proper finish to their time in high school. No Spirit Week, no prom, no spring sports.
“Congratulations!” echoed everywhere. “Thank You!” the smiling seniors excitedly yelled back.
Older “seniors,” including octogenarians, waved, held signs, and shared with us a sorely–needed connection. As cars going and coming in the long parade loop passed each other, many classmates and friends were able to see each other for the first time since schools were shuttered in March. They shouted happy greetings to each other, as the beeping and the merriment intensified.
Perhaps the people of our wonderful little village gave our kids the richest graduation gift of all: a vivid picture of how a caring community can help beat back disappointments that life can deal.
What a memorable spectacle!
Heidi Henshaw is a resident of Briarcliff Manor.