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Turning the tassel COVID style: The class of 2020 graduates in rare form
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Turning the tassel COVID style: The class of 2020 graduates in rare form

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When Ellee Cranney entered her final year at Oakley High School, she never dreamed she’d be rollerblading her way down Main Street some nine months later to receive her high school diploma.

Nor did Castleford seniors dream they’d be sitting outside the high school wearing their graduation robes in a snow squall as well-wishers drove by.

Ellee Cranney, Oakley

Ellee Cranney catches a ride behind her best friend, Zoie Bedke, in Oakley High School's graduation parade. 

But such are the adjustments school administrators had to make in order to give the class of 2020 memorable — yet socially distanced — graduation ceremonies.

“Our principal, Ryan Payne, did a phenomenal job of making our graduation memorable for the students,” Ellee’s mother, Heidi Cranney, said Friday. “Mr. Payne let them show their individuality and do whatever they felt expressed who they are, within the governor’s social-distancing guidelines, of course.”

Oakley graduates celebrated as they lined up in vehicles — sports cars, pickups and off-road vehicles — and paraded down Main before reaching the high school to receive their diplomas.

“Ellee wanted to rollerskate in the parade. She was adamant, “ Cranney said. “But she told me, ‘Rollerskating was your era, Mother. Rollerblading is mine.”

Oakley seniors receive their diplomas

Tristynn Cox receives her diploma Monday at Oakley High School.

The parade became a community event.

“They came up with some fun things — everyone did,” Cranney said. “Air horns. Confetti. Silly string. It was a family event, a way extended family members could show their support.

“They got the parade they deserved and their parents and community wanted for them,” she said. “I think it will end up becoming a tradition.”

Across the valley, school colors were displayed on banners, balloons and signs. Many graduates displayed sheer joy on their faces, but others wore more somber faces, as the reality of leaving their youth behind set in.

Tears flowed freely.

“These kids were born during the 9/11 era and graduated during a pandemic,” Cranney said. “This is a graduation that will go down in history.”

Burley seniors celebrate their graduation

Ethan Baker looks at pictures of his classmates as he walks to the auditorium to receive his diploma Thursday at Burley High School.

Canyon Ridge seniors honored in graduation parade

Karen Baldridge holds up a sign to congratulate Canyon Ridge seniors Tuesday during the graduation parade in Twin Falls. 'I was a lunch lady for a lot of them over at Robert Stuart Middle School,' Baldridge says. 'I'm here to celebrate with them.'

Canyon Ridge seniors honored in graduation parade

Canyon Ridge seniors are honored during a graduation parade Tuesday in Twin Falls.

Castleford class of 2020 graduates

The class of 2020 battles inclement weather Thursday during its graduation ceremony at Castleford High School.

Hagerman seniors graduate

Graduate Amelia Prins picks up her diploma in parade-like fashion Tuesday evening at Hagerman High School. Prins will be attending Boise State University.

Twin Falls seniors graduate

Graduate Lilly Blair picks up her diplomas in parade-like fashion Monday evening at Twin Falls High School.

Mount Harrison students receive diplomas

Graduate Jaime Wright elbow bumps staff while picking up her diploma Wednesday evening at Mount Harrison High School in Heyburn.

Mount Harrison students receive diplomas

Graduates pick up their diplomas one by one Wednesday evening at Mount Harrison High School in Heyburn.

Raft River High School class of 2020

Jessie Ward, wearing a lei, and fellow seniors turn their tassels Tuesday after graduating at Raft River High School in Malta.

Declo graduates in 2020

Seniors release balloons into the air Wednesday to celebrate their graduation  in Declo.

Honoring the class of 2020: Graduating under stay-at-home orders

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