The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many facets of life — including celebrating graduations.
One village thought of a unique way to recognize their members of the Class of 2020.
After spending years studying for tests, stressing over homework, and working on projects, walking across a stage while being cheered by their loved ones and receiving their diploma is a milestone that many seniors look forward to as a way to cap off their years of education.
But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrations and commencements have had to adjust to align with social distancing measures.
This is why Merizo residents Abby and Steven Cruz along with family friends came together to surprise their village’s graduates …. with a wall decorated with their photos to highlight their success.
Alaessia Mansapit, who is friends with the Cruz family, says that they worked on the tribute for more than a week to compile and display more than 30 pictures.
“What we’re looking at behind us is a tribute we want to pay to these students. Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, these students couldn’t have a proper graduation or prom. So this was our way of making them feel special and recognized during this time,” Mansapit said.
Mansapit says the display is special because it not only shows how proud the village is of its graduates but how tight-knit the community of Merizo is.
She says that since the display was put up on Monday, many grandparents and relatives have visited the tribute to recognize how the children they once knew have now grown.
But the most gratifying reactions to see, Mansapit says, are those from the graduates themselves.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than to see the reactions from the graduates, especially. On Monday, Memorial Day, there was a student driving by and he happened to notice his picture. And he stopped his truck and said, ‘That’s me!’ And it was really beautiful to see because this why we did it – to allow these students to feel special,” Mansapit said.
The display will only be up for the next two weeks and Mansapit says that any Class of 2020 senior from Merizo who is not on the graduate board should contact her at 489-2348. After the end of the two weeks, the photos will be given back to the graduates.