Celebrating Seniors: Allendale HS shares graduation plans

Ottawa County

ALLENDALE, Mich. (WOOD) — News 8 Daybreak is celebrating seniors who were featured during the Frenzy Tailgate shows back in the fall as they get ready to end their high school careers.

Allendale High School Principal Troy VanderLaan explained how administrators have already adjusted plans, including holding a drive-thru cap and gown distribution event and a zoom meeting for the National Honors Society induction night. 

Fifteen juniors (senior class of 2021) and 33 sophomores (junior class of 2021) were inducted during the ceremony hosted by AHS Principal Troy VanderLaan. 

The district dedicated Monday, May 4 to AHS seniors, with a “drive-by” pick up of official caps and gowns, and cookies commemorating Decision Day 2020. Seniors also received an individual yard sign printed in color with their photo, first name and “Allendale 2020.”

VanderLaan said in an article on the school’s website, “You have worked so hard for these moments, and a school shutdown cannot take away the honor and respect you deserve as seniors of the Class of 2020.”

In a group zoom call with News 8, seniors shared their plans for next year and how their lives have changed during the pandemic.

Kylie lost her job, since it was nonessential, and is planning to take the next year to travel, hoping to visit her mom’s family in California. Those plans are up in the air due to the uncertainty with COVID-19. Other future plans include cosmetology school, GVSU, and Grace Christian University.

The principal said while some students have lost employment, many others are using the time out of the classroom to work. VanderLaan explained he has signed more work permits in the last two weeks than ever before.

As for graduation ceremony plans, administrators are still considering the options. They sent a survey home to parents last week asking if they prefer a virtual graduation at the end of May or early June, a social distancing option in August, for the administrators to personally deliver diplomas door-to-door, or a traditional commencement during winter break.

VanderLaan cautioned that regardless of the option they choose, what actually happens will depend on Michigan’s regulations regarding the COVID-19 stay-at-home order and social distancing guidelines. Officials plan to share the results of the survey with seniors and their parents this week.

West Michigan students who have been officially named valedictorians of their high school senior classes can record their speech and submit it to woodtv.com. Students can submit their speeches until May 22, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Virtual Valedictorian speeches will then be featured on woodtv.com for students to share with their classmates, family and community.

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