Hickory High School recognized the class of 2020 in a graduation like no other Friday afternoon.
The large crowds typical of graduations were absent from the high school gym.
Students came into the gym 10 at a time to accept their diplomas, lining up on a red carpet with several feet of space between them as they waited for each name to be called.
Fifty chairs were set out on the gym floor for family and loved ones. Once each group of 10 had received their diplomas, they and their loved ones left to make room for the next group.
As they ended their time in high school, several students reflected on a year that was uprooted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blair McIntosh said the switch to remote learning put an end to her senior soccer season.
Looking around the gym at the balloons and the red carpet shortly before graduation began, McIntosh said it felt like a special moment.
She also said it gave her an appreciation for things she previously resented.
“I used to always hate waking up early in the mornings and going to class and doing the morning announcements, but now I regret that and wish I could do it one more time,” McIntosh said.
She added that it would be the first time many students had seen each other since in-person classes were canceled.
Emma Fuller said the peculiar circumstances of the last year of high school would have a lasting impact on the students.
“Our class is definitely going to be one to remember,” Fuller said. “We’re going to be changed more than anyone else going into our freshman years of college or into the workforce or into the military.”
Malakei Sumner said he learned important lessons about perseverance that made him stronger.
“So, I just took it with a grain of salt and just continued to fight through it. And I know that everything is going to get better eventually, so I just try not to think of the negative of what could have or should have happened,” Sumner said.
To see more photos and a video of the 2020 Hickory High class, visit hickoryrecord.com.
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