“Start your engines!”
That call echoed Thursday as a row of cars filled with high school graduates drove down Duke of Gloucester Street.
It was a fitting tribute to the graduating class of 2020 after in-person classes halted and commencement ceremonies “socially distanced” because of the coronavirus pandemic.
And it’s all planned by the Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools to make sure seniors felt – given the health emergency – special.
Seniors from Jamestown High School lined up in front of Matthew Whaley Elementary School in cars decorated with streamers, paint and posters. Jamestown was one of the three local high schools who got to participate in the DoG Street procession Thursday.
Some of the cars were packed with family members and dogs, while others had a group of excited graduates singing along to their blasting radios.
“It’s a pretty interesting experience,” said Timothy Fowler Jr., a Jamestown graduate headed for West Point in the fall. “I think it’s not what people traditionally wanted but everyone is trying their best.”
Loved ones lined the road along Duke of Gloucester Street prepped with cameras ready to take a picture of the special moment.
The graduates lined up more than an hour for the celebration and drove their cars down the mile-long path, where some of the familiar faces of teachers and staff were waiting for them.
“They’ve had four years of excellence at Jamestown,” said Howard Townsend, Jamestown principal. “After 13 years, these young people have been moving towards the end of the beginning. This isn’t the end for them, they’re going to continue their education in some way so it’s imperative that we celebrate that.”
Townsend had the honor of leading the rows of cars down the road in a golf cart.
At least 100 cars participated in the ceremony and drove down the road to the sound of cheers from the crowd.
Graduate Lauren Weber said this wasn’t how she pictured graduating from high school but now she’s proud of the experience. Weber, who drove a car with two of her friends, said she plans to attend Virginia Tech in the fall and while life may still seem uncertain, she’s excited for what the future holds.
The WJCC high schools will also be participating in a diploma ceremony at Busch Gardens over the weekend. Ceremony times are as follows:
- Lafayette High School, 3 p.m. on Friday
- Jamestown High School, 9 a.m. on Saturday
- Warhill High School, 3 p.m. on Saturday
Graduates will drive in a vehicle procession through the Busch Gardens parking lot to an outdoor stage, where students can walk in full regalia and receive their diploma.
For more information, visit WJCC online.
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