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 North Farmington High School seniors sit atop their cars, waving to onlookers during the Farmington Public Schools Class of 2020 Graduate Car Parade June 11.

North Farmington High School seniors sit atop their cars, waving to onlookers during the Farmington Public Schools Class of 2020 Graduate Car Parade June 11.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Farmington Public Schools celebrates Class of 2020 with car parade

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published June 23, 2020

 A Farmington High School senior sports the high school flag.

A Farmington High School senior sports the high school flag.

Photo by Jonathan Shead

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FARMINGTON/HILLS — The past three months have been anything but normal for K-12 students across Michigan.

As Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the shuttering of K-12 buildings across the state March 16 to slow the spread of COVID-19, schools and students were forced to transition operations online. For soon-to-be graduating seniors, not being able to walk the halls one last time or say goodbye to teachers and friends only added to the turmoil.

Farmington Public School officials didn’t want that to be the end of the story, however, so they hosted graduation car parades the evening of June 11 for each of the district’s three high schools — Farmington, North Farmington and Farmington Central high schools.

The district’s Class of 2020 includes 740 total graduates. The district still plans to host a graduation ceremony for each high school in August.

“Our students have been sitting in front of computer screens for three months,” said Farmington High School Principal Tom Shelton. “Overwhelmingly, we heard from our seniors that they wanted a chance to celebrate their success, and their families wanted that for them, too. We’re excited we could provide something in a live format that feels like a celebration.”

A roaring celebration, fit for the ’20s, it was.

Roughly 200 cars per parade filled with families and friends came out to support the Class of 2020, sporting congratulatory signage, balloons, banners for sports and academic achievement, and window art detailing the colleges students will be attending in the fall. Each school’s mascot also made an appearance.

As cars lined the streets, filing through the parade and honking their horns in celebration, they were met by family and community members lining the sidewalks, congratulating them each step of the way. School staff, teachers and Parent Teacher Association members were present to say their final goodbyes, something Shelton said several students wanted to be able to do.

For Farmington High School senior Jacody Sikora, seeing his teachers from the past four years was important.

“For me, being here for four years (and) seeing my teachers one last time before I leave is going to be amazing,” he said at the event.

To top it off, lawn signs for each graduating senior — whether they were in attendance or not — lined the grass outside of each school. Lawn signs could be picked up by families “a few days after the parade,” Shelton said.

“It was amazing that our school still tried to do this for us, especially when things are so bad right now with the (coronavirus),” Sikora said. “It shows the school truly cares about us.”

“Even though it’s not ideal, I think it’s really awesome they put this together for us. You can tell they really did try for it, that they gave it their best,” Farmington High School senior Rachel Scott added. “I’m excited to see my friends after all of this. Being able to see them, even though we’re not walking across the stage together, but everyone is in their cap and gowns — that’s pretty great.”

As many of the district’s traditional milestone celebrations for graduating seniors had to be halted, Shelton said he hopes the car parade could provide a sense of accomplishment and closure for his students.

“The Class of 2020 will forever go down in my memory as a class that’s had a lot of bumps in the road but has done a great job bouncing back. Between the closure of Harrison High School last year, at Farmington we had our homecoming football game canceled this year, and now with the COVID-19 closure since March, this group of students has been through a lot,” Shelton said. “I’ve been so impressed with their leadership, strength and resilience, and also the good times we’ve had along the way. I hope their high school memories are going to serve them well.”

“I’m glad they did something for the kids. I think this is great,” Rachel’s mom, Darcy Scott, said. “Congratulations to the Class of 2020. Good luck. We love you. You guys are awesome.”

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