Canby High School Surprises Class of 2020 with Yard Signs Honoring Each Senior on May Day

The coronavirus pandemic wrecked the final trimester of the Class of 2020’s careers at Canby High School. But it might also have brought out the best in them, according to their high school administrators and teachers.

“I’ve been impressed with the positivity, camaraderie, and resilience of these students,” says Principal Greg Dinse. “Their last term was simply decimated, and yet I continue to see our students rise up and respond positively and supportively.”

Associate Principal Kimie Carroll, whose daughter is among the senior class, agreed, saying the Class of 2020 has actually been encouraging their teachers and administrators just as much as the staff has been trying to support them.

“They are supporting each other, caring about staff, and are so positive with us all,” she said. “They are resilient and flexible. We miss them so much! As you know, they were born around 9-11 and if there was a class that could handle this, it would be the Class of 2020.”

Associate Principal Cari Sloan said the seniors have revealed their resilience in creative ways during these unprecedented times.

“They are a spirited bunch,” she said. “They are talented athletes, musicians, thespians and students who have had remarkable success on the field, court, stage and so much more!”

When school officials received word that all the best parts of senior year — graduation, prom and the like — would be canceled statewide because of the pandemic, they began to brainstorm other creative ways to honor and recognize students for their achievement.

One of those ways was a campaign placing signs recognizing the Class of 2020 in the yards of each member of the senior class. It was a closely guarded secret until today.

Think of it as a senior prank — just, you know, in reverse.

Principal Greg Dinse puts together a CHS senior appreciation sign Friday evening before the big distribution. Photo by Tyler Francke.

“We always want graduation to be special,” Principal Dinse said, in explaining the effort. “It’s a crowning achievement and life transition all in one! The Class of 2020 was given a raw deal with the closure and we want to make this as special and memorable as we can under these unique circumstances.”

The signs were designed by Anna Noel, one of the school’s graphic design teachers, and ordered a few weeks ago, in preparation for the surprise distribution — which kicked off at 6 p.m. May 1. The school is also distributing “senior hearts” to the class through regular mail, which were done in English, Spanish and Russian out of respect for the community’s diversity:

Earlier this week, administrators, teachers, Canby Boosters, parents and volunteers further showed their love and appreciation for the Class of 2020, greeting them — from a distance — and cheering them on as they picked up their senior T-shirts and gear, graduation information, caps and gowns, and Cougar pins.

Photos by Tyler Francke:

Administrators say their inspiration for the various ways they are supporting the senior class (with more surprises still to come — stay tuned) has come from both internal discussions, from the district community and from all over the state and nation.

“We are getting ideas from around the state and I even spoke to a principal from Mississippi,” Carroll said through email. “We are collaborating together, sharing ideas with each other about both graduation and senior traditions. We get ideas from the community and seniors. I have a senior myself, and she definitely gives me ‘feedback’ (eye roll) haha.”

Canby High staff and volunteers getting ready to distribute yard signs for the Class of 2020 on Friday evening. Photo by Tyler Francke.

“I am a huge fan of ‘Edutwitter’: Twitter accounts where educators throughout the world share ideas and problem-solve,” Sloan added. “Obviously, there are a ton of folks in the same boat, and everyone is sharing and working together.”

We asked these administrators what main message they would want the Class of 2020 to take away from this situation.

Principal Greg Dinse:

Learn from these challenges and disappointments and grow stronger! Perhaps you will be better for it? This situation has caused stress, anxiety, and economic hardship, as well as physical illness and death for many. It will get better. To quote centenarian British WWII veteran Captain Tom Moore, “The sun will shine on you again and the clouds will go away.”

Associate Principal Kimie Carroll:

We are #CanbyProud of you, stay #CanbyPositive and always remember how much we love the #CanbySeniors2020!

Associate Principal Cari Sloan:

You are talented and resilient. We miss you, we care about you, and you can overcome hard things.

CHS Principal Greg Dinse stops for a photo op with happy senior Tatum Pierson Friday evening. Photo courtesy Christie Pierson.

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