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The coronavirus pandemic made honoring SMHS seniors a challenge this year, but it was a challenge that was met last Thursday.

 

By Kelly Morgan

Cars, trucks and motorcycles circled Smoky Mountain High School as community members and school personnel cheered on this year’s graduating seniors last Thursday.

The SMHS students’ excitement over the Senior Parade was evident as they whooped and hollered, many wearing graduation hats and SMHS T-shirts. Senior Zachary Lambert dyed his hair blue. 

Students used paint, streamers, flags, balloons and banners to decorate their vehicles. They wrote everything from “Class of 2020” to “Thanks, corona” on their windows, and most participants held up posters with their names and accomplishments. 

Senior Scott Alligood’s car shot out confetti every few feet, and senior Kat Morgan threw chocolate to the crowd.

“The rain during the second drive around couldn’t dampen spirits,” Jackson County School Superintendent Kim Elliott said. 

Spectators included not only students’ family members and SMHS staff, but also elementary school teachers, county office workers and former SMHS graduates.

“This was a great celebration of our senior class,” SMHS Principal Evelyn Graning said. “I think everyone really enjoyed it.” 

Students said the parade was a positive experience. 

“It was a perfect ending to my high school career,” senior Manuel Herevia said.

“The parade was something I will always remember as an act of kindness and consideration,” senior Sydney Rice said. “I was skeptical about participating at first, but our teachers and staff did a fantastic job making each senior feel special.” 

Both Graning and Elliott thanked the law enforcement officers and emergency volunteers who made the event possible.