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'Hang in there Class of 2020': High school seniors find creative ways to celebrate graduation

Some Central Georgia high school seniors are finding creative ways to celebrate the milestone.

MACON, Ga. — Coronavirus has caused events all over the world to be canceled or postponed.

For high school seniors across the county, that means a possibility of no graduation ceremony, but some Central Georgia grads are finding creative ways to celebrate the milestone.

Harley Yopp, a senior at Howard High School in Macon, decided to make light of the situation with a coronavirus quarantine photo shoot.

She says the photographer who was set to take her senior photos reached out and told Yopp she had an idea to make the photo shoot quarantine-themed.

“She was like, ‘I want to give you a painter suit and a bunch of other quarantine stuff,'” Yopp said.

Now, Yopp’s senior photos have her pictured with Lysol spray, gloves and a mask.

In some photos she holds a sign that reads, ‘Say goodbye to the young teens and say hello to the quaran-teens.’

Yopp took the photos before Gov. Kemp announced that all K-12 schools would not return to in-person classes for the rest of the school year.

“With everything going on and my senior year finally being officially canceled, so to say, it was just good way to joke about it, kind of get a laugh,” Yopp said.

Tameya Strudwick is a senior at East Laurens High School. Her mother, Timikie Roberts, says she decided to honor Strudwick’s graduation in a different way too.

“I decided, let me go ahead and get out the goodies that I already have thus far and decorate my yard and help lift her spirits,” she said.

Roberts made signs for Strudwick and used them to decorate her front yard.

Credit: Timikie Roberts

"She was really touched by it,” Roberts said.

East Laurens has postponed its commencement ceremony to July.

“We’re doing the little things now that we have heard that graduation will be in July,” Roberts said.

Roberts says if COVID-19 causes Strudwick's ceremony to be canceled too, her immediate family will hold a small ceremony. 

No matter what, she will put on her cap and gown.

“Just us. Her support system. She will have a graduation ceremony,” Roberts said.

Yopp is the Howard class of 2020 valedictorian. She says she has worked for that title all four years of high school and it is ‘heartbreaking’ not to get that recognition now.

“All of this is really upsetting. Everything that we’ve been looking forward to for senior year comes in the last two months,” Yopp said.

Without prom, graduation, or senior week ahead, Yopp says she feels like she is missing a sense of closure after spending her entire life in grade school.

“Graduation is kind of a pathway,” she said. “This is the true end of childhood.”

She says her silly photo shoot made the situation a little easier to swallow.

“It just made it less emotional,” Yopp said. “Made it more just a joke, something to laugh about in the future.”

She has been accepted to Mercer, Georgia Tech, Emory, the University of Georgia, and the University of Arkansas.

Yopp has not made a final decision about where she wants to attend, but she says she’s worried about the possibility of spending her first semester – or even year – of college online.

Roberts says Strudwick plans to attend Oconee Fall Line Technical College for two years for an associates degree in nursing, then transfer to Augusta State University to finish her RN in nursing. 

"Hang in there class of 2020," Roberts said. "We're going to get through this."

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