By 2020 graduate, Cambrie Luce
Nothing about the last few months had been normal, so the senior class figured that the morning of graduation should be unique as well. By 5 a.m. a tent, metal fireplace, and chairs that seated half the senior class was successfully set up in the Billman’s front yard. After sharing a laugh with the Billman family once they woke up, passing out kolaches, and packing up again, the seniors made their way to Providence for the End of School Parade, where the fifteen graduates showcased their tailgate displays decorated with banners of their chosen college as well as photo and memorabilia of their childhood and time as a Providence student.
By 7 p.m., the graduates and their families began driving up to form a semi-circle around a decorated stage and inflatable screen. Each of the seniors set up a lawn chair in front of his or her car, waved and called out to friends across the field, and took pictures with those parked next to them. Once the sky dimmed enough to allow for visibility of the screen, pictures of the graduates in all walks of life flashed across the screen. Good-natured yells and laughs could be heard across the parking lot as all the spaces filled up and radios were turned on and tuned in. Soon the graduation march music could be heard and the footage from the private diploma ceremonies along with encouraging advice from Providence alumni filled the screen. Mr. Tommy Rutledge, father of senior Hannah Rutledge, opened the ceremony with prayer. After the prayer, seniors Jared Yost, Sydney Vincent, and Cambrie Luce each took turns delivering their commencement addresses, in which they reminisced about favorite school memories, thanked the faculty, and gave their last words of advice to the student body.
Mr. Billman then took the stage to deliver his graduation address. He emphasized the importance of ceremony before sharing his memories of each of the graduating seniors. Then one by one, each graduate joined Mr. Billman on the stage to receive his or her diploma. Afterward, everyone sang the graduation blessing, led by Dr. Claybrook and the Almond family. Dr. Barnett closed the ceremony by reading a passage of scripture to the seniors. Then, the moment everyone was waiting for! As the graduates moved their tassels and threw their hats in the air, the parking lot erupted with cheering, honking, and flashing lights. A reception gift basket was given to each graduate and his family to celebrate a beautiful, unique, and chaotic senior year. Providence Preparatory School made the best of a difficult situation and thoughtfully sent off fifteen young adults into the world with an unprecedented ceremony that will not be soon forgotten.