By Meg Dickens
The Johnson County High School Class of 2020 had one last hurrah during the senior walk and picnic on Saturday, June 20. Students gathered at Food Country dressed in their caps, gowns, and honor cords then walked down Main Street to First Baptist Church to a crowd. Parents and generous volunteers from the Johnson County community chipped in to make this event a reality. Inclement weather was not enough to rain on their parade.]]
“After having our Senior year unexpectedly come to an end, my classmates and I have been dealing with the loss of multiple end-of-the-year activities. We have been very fortunate, though, because we have had the support and love of our community through all of it,” said JCHS 2020 graduate Hazlee Kleine. “ I know I can speak for all of the seniors when I say how grateful we are that we were able to have the Senior Walk and Picnic, and thank you to everyone that helped put it together.
Parents noticed how disappointed their children were and believed they deserved the rights of passage that the pandemic-induced early school closing took from them. As soon as school was officially closed for the 2019-2020 school year, parents got to work. Kim Kleine, the mother of Hazlee Kleine, organized a Facebook group specifically for this purpose. Graduates of the Class of 2020, brainstormed ideas and promoted them through Instagram.
Parents worked together to make these ideas possible. In the end, they pooled their resources and community resources for a photo booth, cornhole, karaoke, multiple recreational sports, and a dunking booth. Initially, there was going to be inflatables, but parents canceled the search after thinking about possible dangers related to COVID-19.
According to Kim, the ceremony is about “kids just being kids” and getting closure before moving on to the next step. Community members stepped up to make the event the best it could be.
A.C.T.I.O.N Coalition and State Farm furnished the main food; parents provided side dishes, drinks, and marshmallows; MyRide TN Johnson County Transportation Coordinator Danae Watson and Senior Center Director Kathy Motsinger handled and served desserts; Amy Curd provided wood for the bonfire and got permission from Gina Meade to use Chamber Park for the event; the Butler Fire Department provided a dunking booth; Joey Icenhour volunteered to be the photographer and helped find tables; Debbie Dunn searched for the DJ; First Christian Church donated equipment for cornhole and extreme frisbee; Johnson County High School loaned sports equipment; Paula Stewart organized teachers from county elementary schools, so students could see their former teachers.
“This community is just awesome. We have an overabundance of the important stuff,” Kim exclaimed. “There’s no better place for a child. When push comes to shove, this is the kind of place you want to be.”
It is not the end of this planning group. Their next project is a prom. Now that students committed to attending prom, if it were to happen, doubts on the matter can be put to rest, and plans can move forward.