Clay High School to hold car parade for seniors

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Everyone loves a parade. And the Clay High School graduating class of 2020 is no different.
        For the last 33 years, Clay High School “Operation Graduation” has been an overnight event planned and hosted by a group of parents of senior students for the graduating seniors at Clay High School.
         The event is held at the local Eastern YMCA and is the last event that the students are all together before graduation. The night is packed with fun activities, such as swimming, massages, caricature art, contesting games, food, smoothie bar and coffee bar. The final activity of the night is the famed reverse raffle with prizes. Each student in attendance walks away with a prize and a matching class t-shirt.
        Due to Covid-19, the event was in jeopardy of not happening. The Operation Graduation Committee had booked vendors, raised funds, and gathered donations and prizes since January. The event was planned and set, until the stay-at-home orders in March. Before giving in and canceling the event completely, brainstorming led to the idea of a car parade through the City of Oregon for the community to see and celebrate the Clay 2020 Senior Class.
        “The end of the year has been challenging for all of our students, especially our seniors,” said Clay High School Principal Jim Jurski. “They have missed out on the last quarter of their high school career. We have been attempting to find creative ways to celebrate our seniors. The Operation Graduation Committee had a great idea of a senior class parade to replace the traditional overnight celebration.”
Community spirit
        Jurski urged the public to stand along the parade route and show “how much our seniors mean to the entire Oregon community.”
        Jurski worked with Oregon Mayor Mike Seferian, the police and fire departments and school officials to make the car parade a reality.
        The senior car parade will be held Saturday, May 30 at 11 a.m. Parking spots along the parade route will be marked for the community to use to line the streets in support of the Class of 2020. The parade will begin at Oak Shade Grove and end at Clay High School. The parade will have one senior student per vehicle, with immediate family only. The reverse raffle prizes will be handed out at the parade to each senior that signed up.
        Clay High School Operation Graduation Committee Chairperson Cheryl Vislay called the car parade “a great idea.” Vislay has a daughter, Jenna, who will be in the parade.
        “It gives us something to look forward to, since we really had everything taken away."
        Vislay is asking the community to show their support for the seniors in the parade.
        “Let's get the community out and support our seniors. Feel free to make a sign for them. They'd love to see you.”
        A virtual graduation ceremony will be held on Sunday, May 31, at dusk at Sundance Drive-in Theater. Each graduation will be given two tickets to distribute to family members for entrance to the drive-in graduation ceremony. Each ticket will allow one car to enter the drive-in theater. The entire ceremony will be recorded ahead of time and shown using both screens at the drive-in. The virtual ceremony will follow the same process as a “traditional” graduation ceremony.
        It is expected that all attendees will use a face mask, according to Jurski.
        “We couldn’t be more proud of our senior students these past two months. They have overcome numerous obstacles and missed memorable activities during the last quarter of their senior year. This graduation ceremony will have the ability to celebrate the class of 2020.”
        The videotape will also be uploaded to the district’s  YouTube channel, according to Jeff Ziviski, member of the school board.


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