It’s been a tough year for the county’s graduating seniors. But local seniors have dug in, completed assignments online and even gone the extra mile to create unforgettable memories.
That’s why so many people got together this month to come up with a special way to celebrate Chambersburg Area Senior High School’s 2020 graduating class.
What they came up with is an initiative they are calling “Celebrate Chambersburg Seniors.”
It involves signs area residents can buy to celebrate and recognize the Class of 2020.
The Celebrate Chambersburg Seniors sign initiative came together as a result of many people working behind the scenes in partnership.
Community leaders, local organizations, district staff, parents, and students contacted Art Sign Company as well as the CASD Foundation to talk about how Chambersburg can recognize graduates’ accomplishments in light of the pandemic.
Kindergarten teacher Katie Fike and senior parent Trish Bailey went to work to move the project from discussion to action.
“I was heartbroken for all of the seniors knowing that their senior year was not going to end the way most years would,” Fike said.
Remembering her own senior year, Fike was sad for this year’s graduating class. She and Bailey wanted to show seniors the whole community was thinking of and standing behind them.
“We wanted them to know that they weren’t alone,” Fike said.
Getting the ball rolling
Fike contacted Art Sign Company and CASD Foundation Executive Director Angela Lynch about their idea.
As a former Foundation grant recipient, Fike supported the organization’s mission. She saw a partnership between the foundation and Art Sign as a way to accomplish her goal.
The Foundation’s mission is to advance educational opportunities by securing and providing independent support to enhance academic and career development.
Lindsay Leonard, CASHS senior counselor and Foundation board member, challenged the group to take it to the next level; to fundraise to purchase signs for every senior.
“We want every student in the Class of 2020 to feel celebrated,” she said. “We really need to send a strong community message of encouragement because this has become such a sad time for many of our students rather than a time that they will remember fondly.”
COVID-19 has changed daily life for everyone and impacted public education, Lynch said. That’s especially true for high school seniors with the loss of in-person interactions and traditional rite-of-passage celebrations.
Small gesture, powerful message
The signs may seem like a small gesture, Lynch said, but they send a powerful message to graduating seniors. Their hometown has not forgotten them.
“Many of them are still meeting virtually and receiving encouragement electronically,” Lynch said.
Jackie Fisher, Art Sign Company Vice President, sees the company’s part in the project as a way to show appreciation to the community and the Class of 2020.
“We are blessed that our business is able to give back to a community that has given so much to us,” she said. “As former educator I recognize how important it is for students to feel valued and appreciated.”
Lynch believes seeing signs pop up all over the district as their hometown celebrates with the Class of 2020 will mean much to the seniors.
In the first 24 hours, the Foundation took orders for 150 signs.
“It’s a tremendous start, Lynch said. “We hope to see these signs all over the district.”
How to order or donate signs
Orders and donations Can be made online through the Foundation’s QGiv secure giving site. Community members who would like to purchase a sign or donate funds may do so here.
Cutoff date for both is May 6. Drive-thru style pick-up (with appropriate social distancing) will be May 16 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Art Sign Company, 470 Nelson Street.
Signs will be available on a pre-pay basis only. There will no sales that day.
Individuals who donate to the senior sign fund do not need to pick signs up. They will be made available directly to the seniors. Direct questions to [email protected] or 717-709-4091. All donations are tax-deductible as eligible by law.
The Chambersburg Area School District intends to host an in-person graduation ceremony on May 28 for Career Magnet School and May 29 for CASHS.
However, in the event that social distancing restrictions continue, dates have been scheduled for June and July: June 25 for CMS and June 26 for CASHS or July 30 for CMS and July 31 for CASHS.
If social distancing guidelines extend beyond July, a virtual graduation will be held on the July dates given. More information will be shared when a date is finalized.