CAMPTON TOWNSHIP – The COVID-19 pandemic will prevent St. Charles North High School graduating senior Allie Bransky and her fellow graduates from having their diplomas handed to them on Thursday as part of a formal ceremony.
But their achievement will still be recognized, just in a different manner.
Bransky lives in Splitrail Farm subdivision in Campton Township. She and eight other St. Charles North graduates who live in the subdivision will be honored on May 23 with a parade led by the Campton Hills Police Department. Proper social distancing will be practiced during the event.
"This parade is something that could even be better than a graduation ceremony," she said. "In past years, seniors who have gotten ceremonies wouldn't get this kind of recognition."
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, graduating seniors from St. Charles North and St. Charles East high schools were set to receive their diplomas on Thursday as part of a ceremony at the NIU Convocation Center. But those plans had to be scratched because of the pandemic.
Graduating St. Charles North seniors who live in Thornwood subdivision in South Elgin will be honored with a parade on Thursday. Seniors from both high schools will be honored in other ways as well.
The tower at the St. Charles Municipal Building will play “Pomp and Circumstance" at 5 p.m. Thursday and the tower lights will shine orange and blue (the school colors for each school) in recognition of their achievement. District 303 is also recognizing the graduating seniors in various ways, including the placement of graduation banners at each high school that list all their names, posting their photos on the district's Facebook page and a video featuring all of the seniors.
Bransky hasn't seen her high school friends since March, when schools across the state had to close in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. But she still has been able to keep in contact with them.
"We're texting each other and doing FaceTime and group Zoom calls," she said. "People are still communicating and keeping in touch, which is really important."
The decision to keep schools closed for the rest of the academic year took Bransky and her fellow classmates by surprise.
"In March, when school closed, most of us didn't really think it would be our last time at school together," Bransky said. "We didn't get closure."
Twin sisters Ava and Miranda Victor will both attend the University of Iowa in the fall. Ava said she is still hopeful they will attend the campus this fall.
She said not being able to be in school was the hardest part of her remote learning experience.
"It's not the same as seeing each other in person and being in a school environment," Ava Victor said. "It's the memories you make at school that carry on with you."
Parade organizer Jenny Maxwell, who has a sophomore at St. Charles North and a sixth-grader at Thompson Middle School, said she hopes the parade will provide some joy to the students.
"I feel like a little bit of joy goes a long way," she said. "Some of their moms are close friends of mine and I knew they were sad, not just the kids. So it's for the whole family. It's for the moms and dads and for the graduates, just to have something that they can remember."