Principal finds unique way to commemorate graduating seniors amid coronavirus pandemic


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GRACEVILLE, Fla. (WMBB) – High school seniors across the country may be having their senior year cut short, causing them to miss out on milestones like graduation and prom. But one high school principal in the Florida Panhandle is determined to change the narrative and remind her students of all the joy they bring to their small community.

Poplar Springs School Principal Farica West said when schools closed down she knew she had to find a way to commemorate her 30 graduating seniors.

“They’re missing a lot of the memorable moments that we all hold near and dear to our hearts throughout our whole lives,” said West.

West immediately took action. She contacted the photographer who took the Class of 2020’s senior photos.

“I called him up and I said ‘what can you do for our kids?’ I really envision in my mind their senior portraits laying down the driveway,” West said.

West’s vision soon came to life. Their portraits now line the school’s road, Field of Dreams-style. Her students’ faces welcome anyone driving from near or far.

“People who don’t even have students here – (from) Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi – have driven over just to drive through and see and honor our students,” West said.

While they may be missing out on their final days as seniors, the students say seeing their portraits on display is getting them through the rough times.

“Seeing this display is really, really encouraging because you start to see that everything that you’ve worked for is not a complete waste,” said Peyton Brannan, a senior at Poplar Springs School.

Brannan’s classmates agree.

“I pass by my school every day I go to work and every time I look out there I just get to see the banners and everything else … just see our faces out there on the drive. So it is definitely something that gives you comfort,” said Dalton Wilkinson, a senior at Poplar Springs School.

Principal West says the school is the center of their close-knit community and they’ll get through these unprecedented times together, like they always have.

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