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Pentucket Community Members Deliver Signs of Encouragement to Graduating Seniors

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WEST NEWBURY — Superintendent Justin Bartholomew and Pentucket High School Principal Jonathan Seymour are pleased to share that administrators, volunteer parents, first responders and community members from Groveland, Merrimac and West Newbury came together Tuesday to spread some cheer among the senior class.

Approximately 180 seniors were greeted by administrators and parents who rode buses decorated with banners that read “Class of 2020 We are Proud of You” and printed with the Pentucket “P” on Tuesday afternoon. The buses were accompanied by a fire engine and police cruiser from each town.

“This was a really special, festive way for us to recognize our seniors, and surprise them at a time when they may need a reminder that we’re all here for them,” Principal Seymour said. “They’ve accomplished a great deal over their high school careers, and we want them to know we’re proud of the young adults they’ve all become.”

The effort was coordinated by the Pentucket Parent Alliance Senior Celebration Committee, a nonprofit committee formed in 1994 that hosts an annual Senior Celebration event for the senior class at Pentucket. Each year, the event offers a substance free, chaperoned, all-night opportunity for seniors to celebrate their graduation together.

Whether or not the event may still happen this year has yet to be determined, pending further guidance from the state on social distancing. In the meantime, the Pentucket Parent Alliance Senior Celebration Committee seized the opportunity to coordinate a parade in partnership with the district while delivering signs to recognize seniors.

“Our seniors deserve to be celebrated, and to fully feel the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes with graduating from high school,” Superintendent Bartholomew said. “I’d like to thank everyone who made this parade possible and those who volunteered to take part in it to help recognize our graduates.”

Participants in the parade adhered closely to social distancing guidelines for the duration of the event, including wearing face coverings. Administrators and volunteers visited the residence of each senior, and students were given a free lawn sign which reads “Proud Supporter of a Pentucket High School Class of 2020 Senior #inthistogether,” a t-shirt which reads “Pentucket 2020 senior #inthistogether,” and gift certificate for a free ice cream donated by Long Hill Orchard and Farm in West Newbury.

“It just warms my heart, being the parent of a senior, to see the support of the district and all three towns for this parade,” said Julie Conover, a member of the Pentucket Parent Alliance Senior Celebration Committee. “This is a big milestone for the class of 2020, and we knew this was an opportunity to surprise and celebrate the senior class in a meaningful way that lets them know we’re thinking about them, but also in a safe, organized manner.”

The t-shirts, lawn signs and banners on the buses were designed by Johanna Tolman, a volunteer, and paid for by fundraisers the Pentucket Parent Alliance Senior Celebration Committee held earlier this year as well as donations.

Salter Transportation donated a school bus and driver for each town’s parade, and mapped out the bus routes. The Institution for Savings of Newbury, Karol Flannery of William Raveis Real Estate and Cindy Adams, of Long Hill Orchard and the Big Scoop, all donated financially to support the event as well.

The Class of 2020 graduation ceremony is scheduled to take place June 6, and Pentucket High School and district administrators are working with student leaders, parents and guardians to develop ways to celebrate the senior class that adhere to the evolving social distancing guidelines and standards being set by the state. Additional information will be shared with students and their families about the ceremony as it becomes available.

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