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Volunteers Surprise Seniors with Congratulatory Signs

By Sam Bequette, Staff Writer

   Instead of spending their final months of high school celebrating their accomplishments, Acalanes High School seniors find themselves isolated at home. With plans for events like senior ball and graduation up in the air because of the shelter in place, the class of 2020 will not be able to commemorate their achievements in the way they had anticipated. 

   Despite the limitations of the shelter-in-place order, Acalanes seniors will not go unrecognized. Senior Class Liaison Tori Heffelfinger and Co-Head Liaison Gayle Burleigh, aided by a team of 30 volunteers, planned an alternate way to celebrate this year’s graduating class. They surprised seniors from all four Acalanes Union High School District schools by placing signs on their lawns on the night of April 9. 

   An Acalanes parent initially brought up the idea to distribute the signs to the Acalanes Parents Club (APC), and the APC Board decided to fund the project.

   “The original intent was to hand them out to senior families at Time of Reflection, but the timeline was moved up when the schools learned that distance learning would continue through the end of the school year,” APC Co-Chairs Dawn Brightbill and Sarah Cusumano said. “There was a sense that seniors needed a boost.”

   Many seniors are upset with the growing probability that Acalanes will alter their final school activities, including the traditional graduation ceremony.

   “I think every student works hard and looks forward to the moment they get to graduate with their class in front of friends and family. Ours will happen differently and that’s frustrating for us,” Associated Student Body Vice-President and senior Aidan Mosely said.

   The signs helped alleviate some of the seniors’ disappointment of not being able to finish the school year. 

   “I think that it is a super sweet and nice gesture. The senior class feels pretty defeated right now, so I think it was really special and important that they did that,” Mosely said. 

   Some seniors viewed the signs as a form of recognition for their diligence as Acalanes students.

   “I think it’s nice to have some recognition of our hard work when we can’t see our friends or go to our classes like we normally would,” senior Aidan Bodner said.

   Not only did the signs lift the spirits of many seniors, but they also provided closure for the abrupt end of their senior year. 

   “I thought it was such a nice gesture and a lovely surprise. Seeing the sign outside makes graduating feel more real,” senior Charlie Keohane said.

   Despite being separated because of the shelter-in-place policy, the signs connected the seniors across the district.

   “I think it brings us together even more. It also distracts from the scary reality we are going through right now which is important,” Mosely said. “It just brings together unity and support for the senior class in that we are all in this together and everyone is trying their best for us and each other.”

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