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School system plans drive-thru diploma procession, other honors for graduates

The Lightning is offering Congratulations Graduate ads in the special souvenir section honoring the Class of 2020 on June 3. To reserve your ad or for more information contact Matt at The Lightning is offering Congratulations Graduate ads in the special souvenir section honoring the Class of 2020 on June 3. To reserve your ad or for more information contact Matt at

While the Class of 2020 may not be able to gather and celebrate in the traditional manners, the Henderson County public school system plans to honor graduates in alternative methods that publicly recognize their accomplishments and serve as tangible keepsakes for families, all in accordance with the governor's executive orders as well as health and safety guidelines.


Although Gov. Roy Cooper's announcement last week to close schools for the remainder of the year was met with much disappointment and sadness by educators, students and families alike, especially for our graduating seniors, the school system has come up with alternative ways to honor graduating seniors – who deserve every moment of praise and recognition.

First, HCPS is in the process of developing individual video graduation ceremonies that will honor the traditional programs, student speakers, and graduates of each high school. The virtual ceremonies will be released online on the evening of Friday, June 5, following an additional, optional event orchestrated for seniors.

On the afternoon of June 5, between the hours of 4 and 6 p.m., each high school will host a “Drive Thru Diploma Procession,” during which graduating seniors and their families will drive predetermined routes to school campuses. Students will then walk up to a designated spot for their diplomas, while being safely cheered on by school staff and officially “graduated” by school administrators. Families are encouraged to decorate their vehicles in celebration of their graduates.

Additionally, HCPS is collaborating with local print media and radio partners to feature the graduating class in new, innovative ways.

Beginning in mid-May, daily “Salutes to Seniors” naming individual graduates will air on WTZQ 95.3 FM throughout the day. Commemorative print publications are planned for the week of graduation, with the annual Top Scholars booklet reformatted to run as a special insert in the Times-News on Monday, June 1.

A standalone “Class of 2020” section featuring the photos and names of HCPS seniors will run in the Hendersonville Lightning on Wednesday, June 3. Parents and families interested in contributing messages to graduates in the style of a “senior yearbook ad” can contact advertising director Matt Mannine at The Lightning is also offering sponsorship ads to their corporate, retail and nonprofit partners.

The district’s Public Information Office is also collaborating with seniors on a student Instagram takeover, during which a group of senior leaders will run the district’s @HCPS_Seniors account. Launching in the next week, the students managing the #HCPSclassof2020 campaign will seek user-submitted content, and feature the post-graduation plans of seniors from all six high schools.

In addition to the district-wide campaign to celebrate the Class of 2020, individual high school administrators, teachers, and staff are developing unique methods to connect with and honor their school’s graduates.

The Class of 2020 will be remembered forever for its resilience, adaptability and character. HCPS thanks the community in advance for supporting the district’s and other local efforts in showing love, appreciation, and respect to our graduates in this special season of their lives.