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 A Henry Ford II High School senior celebrates her upcoming graduation with lawn signs, thanks to a bus campaign from Utica Community Schools.

A Henry Ford II High School senior celebrates her upcoming graduation with lawn signs, thanks to a bus campaign from Utica Community Schools.

Photos provided by Utica Community Schools

Buses deliver graduation garb to Class of 2020

Sterling Heights Sentry | Published May 13, 2020


Senioritis. Senior Night. Prom. 

The events and experiences that high school seniors typically take for granted will never happen the traditional way for the Class of 2020.

But over a three-day period from May 5 to 7, Utica Community Schools came up with a unique way to pay special tribute to its graduating class. According to UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy, they filled around 40 school buses with graduation vestments and adornments each day of the campaign and sent them to district neighborhoods to deliver the items to students. Principals and staffers were also present to offer congratulations. 

In an email, UCS Superintendent Christine Johns talked about her district’s mission to hand out over 2,200 caps and gowns to graduating students. Grads also received lawn signs announcing their achievement, she said.

Johns said UCS followed social distancing policies as part of the gesture.

“It was a great chance for moms, dads and our staff to show our graduates how special they are and connect personally to continue celebrating their accomplishments,” Johns said. “This group of seniors has shown tremendous character and resilience over the past two months.” 

Johns said the Class of 2020 has amply demonstrated their talents in athletics, art and music. She also praised career and technical education grads and said they are “well prepared to lead the automotive, defense and health care industries to support our communities.” 

“The Class of 2020 gives us confidence for the future because we know their leadership and service will make a difference,” Johns added.

Eisenhower High School senior Anthony Berkimer, 17, described what it was like to have the bus stop by his home.

“It was really exciting for my family because we weren't sure what time they were coming, but we heard the bus coming, and the horn was blaring, and the teachers were yelling,” he said. 

“And it made me really happy. They said they were proud of me.”

Berkimer said he received his blue Eisenhower cap and gown, as well as some medallions and cords, including a Key Club medallion, a National Honor Society cord and a medal for journalism. He added that other journalism and yearbook cords would be coming later in the mail.

He said he doesn’t know how the special bus visit compares to traditional events where seniors get their graduation attire. But he said his experience was a great one.

Berkimer said the seniors who qualify for graduation aren’t formally done with classwork yet. He continues to study through online instruction, as well as prepare for Advanced Placement exams.

“I have a bunch of calls with my teachers almost every day,” he said. “We’re still working.”

He described online learning as a big change, adding that a lot of it happens over Zoom video conferencing. He said that while it’s sometimes easier to focus and keep on track, there isn’t as much interaction.

“I went from learning with people my age to learning with my brother and sister and trying to help them while still doing my stuff,” he said. 

“The thing I miss the most is probably the group discussions that we would have in class. I feel it’s more solo right now, just me. I really like talking with my classes and seeing their different viewpoints, especially in English.”

Graduates should expect to receive their diplomas during the first week in June, McAvoy said.

Find out more about Utica Community Schools by visiting

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