ANDOVER TOWNSHIP — The Pymatuning Valley High School Class of 2020's wish was to graduate together with everybody present for the whole ceremony; and their dream came true on Saturday evening.
Pymatuning Valley High School Principal Dan Jackson said the leadership of the class wanted to have the whole senior class together in whatever way that was possible.
"Ultimately we came up with the tunnel," he said.
It turned out that meant everyone would be in their cars listening to speeches, singing the National Anthem and then driving to a spot by the school to have pictures taken and pick up their diplomas before returning to their assigned spot.
After each student speaker's taped message loud horn blasting was heard bouncing off buildings in the educational complex along Route 6.
The students' families parked their vehicles face to face along the north parking lot of the school and waited their turn to drive to the appointed place by the school for pictures.
"Everyone can wave from the safety of their cars," Jackson said on Friday.
Prior to the ceremony, around 6:30 p.m., several seniors could be found with their families putting finishing touches on vehicle decorations to make the night special at the Little League baseball field.
"It's going to be fun," said Ellie Stroke while waiting for the ride to the school.
She said the student council had input into the type of ceremony and the importance to have everybody there for the whole event.
"We wanted to be there all together," she said.
Adam Romanko said the ending to his 13 years in the PV schools was fitting because his first day of Kindergarten was cancelled due to a bomb threat.
"This worked out the best it could be. It is a unique time to be alive," he said.
Noah Wilkerson said he didn't expect his years at PV to end with this type of ceremony but "It still feels pretty good."
He said he plans to attend Kent State University main campus and study business and accounting and a minor in sports management.
After the last students received their diplomas the students exited the campus in their vehicles and had a parade around the village square to be cheered one last time as PVHS students.
Jackson wrote a letter to the students expressing his appreciation for them. He said he anticipated a challenging spring after the cancellation of the school year and so many important events.
"I fully anticipated anger, complaints and overt frustration. I was shocked by your response. Asi I communicated with each of you, you were caring, pleasant, understanding and willing to do whatever you could to help and make this year special," he said.
Jackson said the students also quickly came together to help each other.
"I saw classmates establishing study groups outside of school. I saw students communicating on behalf of each other," he said. "After seeing your resilience in the face of this pandemic, I'm even more confident that the world will be a better place because of the Class of 2020."