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Parades and plans commemorate graduates in Kiowa County

Hannah Brown
A long line of cars forms a graduation parade along Florida Street to honor Kiowa County 8th graders on May 19 in Greensburg.

Many college and high school seniors along with 8th graders are mourning the loss of graduation ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but school supporters in Kiowa County are getting creative in the way they celebrate their graduates.

For 8th grade students graduating from Kiowa County Schools, there was a parade held on Tuesday, May 19. The parade was organized by Haley Kern, whose daughter McKenna was an 8th grader at Kiowa County Junior High. Haley was asked by a good friend what she was planning to do for Mckenna’s graduation. After that conversation, the wheels were turning in Kern’s head and she knew she had to do something special for her daughter and their classmates.

“I felt the parade was a fun way to close this chapter of life for these 8th-grade students,” said Haley. “The year ended so abruptly. I wanted McKenna, and her classmates, to have a positive memory to look back on when they think about the last 2 months of Junior High.”

Kern contacted several different agencies in the community to help make the event special such as the Sheriff’s Department, Greensburg City Police, Greensburg Fire Department, and Kiowa County EMS. Kern created a route for the community so they could see all of the students, and even decorated their yards with balloons. There were 39 vehicles that joined the parade and helped celebrate the student’s accomplishments.

“It was really neat and uplifting to see the community come out to support this great group of kids,” said Kern.

Haviland Grade School is planning a ceremony for July 14th at 7 p.m. There are six boys in the class and all have met the requirements during their time at Haviland to attend Kiowa County High School in the fall.

"The graduation is an opportunity for our students to be recognized for this portion of their educational achievements," said Mark Clodfelter, Haviland Schools Superintendent.

The ceremony will be held at the Ross-Ellis Center for Fine Arts on the campus of Barclay College.

The graduating class of Kiowa County High School is hoping to have a normal graduation ceremony on Saturday, July 25 at 10:30 a.m. High School Principal Travis Powell hopes that is will be as normal as possible which is why it was scheduled in late July.

“[We will have] our traditional graduation, open to the public, everything that we have done before, that’s our hope.”

Powell, along with the USD 422 Board of Education, said he understands that things may change, but they are willing to be flexible on the plans in order to make sure the seniors are celebrated.

Lucy Jacks, a senior at KCHS, is trying to look at the positive in this situation.

“This graduation ceremony is going to be unlike any other ceremony that KCHS has ever had because of everything this class has been through in the last 3 months,” said Jacks. “My class is resilient and we were going to accept anything they threw at us for graduation. We are all ecstatic that they are making efforts to make our graduation as traditional as possible.”

When the world seems to have turned upside down, it is exciting to see young students who have worked hard for years to be able to celebrate their different accomplishments.