A Saturday night at the drive-in typically doesn’t involve marking a milestone, but for the Kane Area High School Class of 2020, Saturday’s visit to the Kane Family Drive-In was a chance to celebrate their achievement, 12 years in the making and almost derailed by a pandemic.
The drive-in was decorated with the red and blue of Kane Area High School, from the balloon arch at the entrance to the numerous banners and signs, one even hanging from the bucket of the fire truck parked near the back.
Superintendent Brock Benson congratulated the Class of 2020, recognizing that the “last two months have been anything but normal.”
Kane Mayor Brandy Schimp was the guest speaker, sharing thoughts on the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact, as well as things she wished she knew after her own graduation.
In a nod to the coronavirus pandemic, Schimp “took a moment to acknowledge the elephant in the room — or maybe just the complete lack of a room.” She noted that this life-changing event meant a very different end than expected, but “one situation, although very large, does not take away from the time, the effort and the dedication you have given over the last 18 years.”
“While I cannot pretend to understand how it feels to graduate during a global pandemic, I can understand what it feels like to graduate at a time when the world as we know it changes in an instant,” Schimp said. She shared memories of sitting in calculus and watching the South Tower Fall on Sept. 11, 2001.
“For the Class of 2002, well we were tasked to go out and show the world that the future of America was in great hands and to do the next great things,” Schimp noted. “And do you know who else was tasked that year? You. You coming into this world during some of the darkest days in modern history created hope, created optimism and created peace among the chaos.”
Schimp also shared her belief that the class will have a similar presence now, inspiring hope as high school graduates.
Schimp’s speech touched on lessons that have stuck out for her in the nearly two decades since she celebrated her own graduation, namely that there will be some tough times but “it is, without a doubt, ok to reach out;” understand the value of YOUR dollar and turn “they” into “we.” The last is a reminder that, much like the way the Kane community approaches a problem, rather than point out areas that need change, it is important to participate in making a change happen.
Senior President Chad Greville presented the class message and shared the class gift, a tree and picnic table that will be added to the high school courtyard.
Greville reminded his classmates that graduating in the shadow of a pandemic still provides opportunities to learn.
“When you know the end of the story, so much of the in-between is lost. ...March 13 was our last day as Kane High students, and it was painfully ordinary. I would be hard-pressed to remember a single thing about it,” Greville said. “The promise of a class trip, the big dance, and the school to yourself for a night make it easy to take days like March 13 for granted. If there’s a lesson here, it is to stop and smell the roses. Don’t take those days for granted because, as we now know, nothing is guaranteed.
The coronavirus has taken from us, but there’s a silver lining. It gave us the unprecedented opportunity to write our own ending.”
School Board President Claire Ann Buckley added her own words of wisdom for the grads, noting that “One thing we’ve all learned is that different can be very special, and we’re seeing that tonight.”
The Kane Class of 2020 was able to complete their walk across a stage — perhaps not the one typically used but a milestone accomplished nonetheless. Each grad was featured on the screen for a few seconds before the next name was announced. The audience was not permitted to exit vehicles to take photos; however, a photographer was on hand, tasked to capture the moment for each graduate and their loved ones. Photos will be made available to families free of charge.
The graduates were celebrated with a slideshow of classmates reminding the seniors they are loved and also a grade-by-grade photo montage following the presentation of diplomas.
Traditionally, the graduates spend graduation night at the high school, celebrating in a safe way thanks to Project Graduation. This year, despite the fact that an all-night party is pandemically prohibited, the seniors were celebrated with personal door prize packages, including a traditional commemorative T-shirt with the signatures of the entire class.
The Kane community donated more than $6,000 worth of cash and prizes for this year’s senior post-graduation celebration, which was $1,500 more than is typically raised. All of those donations went directly to the seniors, since the usual expenses of hosting the party was not a factor.
The evening also included an impressive fireworks show, celebrating the class that has twice been in the forefront during monumental moments in the history of the U.S. (and the world).
The KAHS Class of 2020: HONORS:
Rachael Nicole Buhl, Andrew Martin Geer, Chad Joseph Greville, Sierra Elizabeth Hillman, Hunter Allan Hoag, Jacob John Moore, Brennan Michael Smith, John Stephen Wolfe; ACADEMIC: Raeann Marie Asel, Nathan Ryan Asp, Emily Marie Bucheit, Madison Marie Cressley, Sammantha Kattryna Lee Curcio, Rachel Renee Danielson, Mason Alan Feikls, Hannah Madaline Elizabeth Gullifer, Victoria Marie Hallberg, Caleb Erik Holt, Aaron Christopher Hottel, Jacob Aljoe Jensen, Kalen Wells Johnson, Abigail Rose Langille, Jordan Daniel Lima-Lopez, Donovin Kendal Mack, Lexi Marie Novosel, Alyssa Rae Oakes, Emily Grace Peterson, Robert David Peterson, Kieran Ezra Pierotti, Theodore Michael Race, Xandra Elloise Raymondo, Anna Elizabeth Robbins, Ainsley Ann Saf, Kevin David Scharba, Aaron James Schellhammer, Brandon Lee Severance, MacKenzie Leigh Shrubb, Danielle Alexis Swanson, Haylee Nicole Swanson, Joseph Christopher Walters, Alexandra Margaret Yasurek, Katlyn Abigail Young;