Valley Central has many long-standing traditions that mark the transition from 5th grade to Middle School; 8th grade to High School and of course, graduation from high school. Many of the traditional activities like dances, Senior Ball and moving up ceremonies were impossible to hold this year. The same with many end of year celebrations such as art shows, concerts and induction ceremonies; but that did not stop Valley Central from celebrating.
Creative juices were put to the test as the VC Community sought ways to keep traditions alive and mark important transitions. Elementary students shared “porch concerts” virtually each week. Berea’s 50th Anniversary Art Show was staged by video, through the creative efforts of art teacher, Kelly Brahm. And the High School Art Department staged their Senior Show online and sponsored a virtual Sidewalk Chalk Festival. The 8th grade dance was held virtually thanks to the efforts of E-Rock Entertainment. The Science Research Symposium was presented online with students making videos to explain their projects.
Some traditions transformed in the pandemic. Destination Day became a video of students showing off where their next destination will be. 5th, 8th grade and HS Moving Up all were virtual events which “premiered” on the district Facebook page with thousands of viewers each. Lawn Signs were delivered to the entire Senior Class and 8th grade class by teams of staff members who honked the horns of their cars that were decorated with Viking pride. Facebook Albums were created to show off these events as were videos that were shared on our website and social media. The 8th grade class hung a banner on the Middle School inspired by a story shared on VCSD social media and website of Junior Kelly Conan’s neighborhood campaign to represent that “we are all in this together.” The class also decorated the grounds of the Middle School with green bows. Students have posed under the banner and sent photos in to be shared on district social media.
Each Elementary School staged an elaborate pick up ceremony where 5th graders got their moving up certificates, awards, gifts from their PTA/PTO and a lawn sign. Individual pictures were taken of each student many of whom arrived in cars that were decorated to celebrate the end of their elementary years.
At the high school the whole town joined in an elaborate Cap and Gown Pick Up event where students drove through 18 stations receiving flowers, cords, gifts from the Town Police Department, the All Night Grad committee, a bbq meal from all the fire departments and emergency services as they drove under an arch of balloons to have their photographs taken by Kateigh and Ben photography. And that was just the first event. Next, students had the opportunity to don those caps and gowns and pick up their diploma with their family and have photographs again taken by Kateigh and Ben photography. Their Senior Awards night video replaced the annual Senior Awards ceremony. A celebratory video was created for the Seniors that featured the faculty saying farewell in poignant messages and candid photos of the seniors with their class officers sharing favorite memories of Valley Central. The last part of the video featured pomp and circumstance played by the VCHS Band while the Honorary Announcers said their names as their Senior Photos were displayed. On the night they would have graduated, the Senior Slideshow that would have been shown at the Senior Dinner was released for thousands to view.
The High School hopes to be able to have their traditional graduation ceremony and All Night Grad party on August 1, 2020 with social distancing guidelines in place. And they do have a virtual back up plan just in case they can’t.
Even retirements are being celebrated virtually with staff receiving visits from colleagues and the District soon releasing a video to honor all the retirees.
Superintendent John Xanthis said, “Although we didn’t have our usual events to celebrate the end of another school year, our staff and community members came up with creative ways to not only honor these traditions, but to create new ones. Some of which may become new traditions that we add!”