NEWTOWN >> In a show of recognition for the Class of 2020, teachers from the Council Rock School District fanned out throughout the district on May 20 to hand deliver a special message to each member of this year’s graduating class.
The message came in the form of close to 900 yard signs containing the graduates’ names and class photos along with a congratulatory message.
It was one of the district’s way of commending the Class of 2020 on a job well done while respecting social distancing in the new world of COVID-19.
The signs were jointly purchased by Council Rock and the Council Rock Education Foundation with special support from Sir Speedy Printing of Newtown as a way to celebrate and recognize each member of the Class of 2020. Nearly 200 Council Rock staff members participated in the lawn sign drop-off event while following social distancing.
Among the first to receive the special delivery was North’s senior class president Mackenzie Farley who was greeted at her Newtown Township door by her French teacher, Lorraine Mayer.
“I was so happy to see my teacher and to receive the sign,” said Mackenzie. “I love the sign. It makes me feel special. This is all about recognition and that’s what this is giving all of us.”
The encounter didn’t last long - maybe a few seconds at most - but it was, after all, the thought that counts.
Mackenzie said in March, when everything started happening, she was “super disappointed” as one by one all the events that make senior year memorable were canceled.
“I’m very disappointed, but I know that we’re social distancing for a good reason,” said Mackenzie. “I know it needs to be done, but it’s still so disappointing that I’m graduating during this time.”
For Mackenzie and her classmates it quickly became apparent that there would be no senior class trip, no prom and no graduation, at least in the traditional sense.
“In the beginning I was super sad about it because it happened slowly. Everything was just taken away one by one,” said Mackenzie. “But then I came to realize that there’s a bigger picture, like there are so many seniors right now who are missing their graduations. We’re kind of like in this together,” said McKenzie. “Even if you’re from California or Pennsylvania, the Class of 2020 will always have this in common. It’s just kind of cool in that way.”
The biggest frustration for Mackenzie and the senior class is that they just want to be with each other and they can’t.
“We’re missing out on going to class together, seeing our teachers participating in activities and events,” she said. “I think most are just upset we can’t be with each other during this exciting time.”
Mackenzie said she’s coping by doing a lot of FaceTiming, social media and channeling her energy into helping to plan virtual events, like graduation, to at least give the Class some kind of recognition.
For graduation, Mackenzie said the district is lining up a videographer to film each graduate - dressed in their caps and gowns - as they walk - one by one - across the stage inside the auditorium. “And then they’re going to be airing it on our graduation day.”
And then on graduation day, teachers from K to 12 will be lining up on the high school campus while the seniors ride by in a car parade. “That’s really exciting, too,” she said.
Mackenzie had a lot of praise for Council Rock and its response to the pandemic and said they are doing their best to respond to a very difficult and challenging situation.
“They are in a super hard spot. Nobody knows how to handle the situation. But they are doing the best they can. They are taking the time to hear us,” Mackenzie said. “I’ve been on multiple Zoom meetings with administration, central administration and the superintendent and they have been in close contact with the students to see what they want. I think they’re doing the best that they can given the challenging circumstances.”
Mackenzie said through the whole pandemic experience, she has learned not to take anything for granted.
“I really took for granted that I was going to have a prom, that I was going to have graduation and that I was going to spend the last three months with my friends before going to college. And all of that was just taken away from me,” she said. “I wasn’t acknowledging what I had when I had it. So my main takeaway is to cherish the good things and don’t take anything for granted.
“And when this is all over, I’m going to hang out with my friends,” said Mackenzie.
Mackenzie, the daughter of Heather and Glenn Farley of Newtown, has attended Council Rock since the second grade, attending Goodnoe Elementary and Newtown Middle School before moving onto North.
Mackenzie has been senior class President for the past two years at North where she’s also a member of the National Honor Society, the French Honor Society and the Social Studies Honors Society.
“Council Rock has set me up for success, opening the door to the school I wanted to attend. My entire 10 years at Council Rock, I have loved every teacher. They have molded me into the student I am today. I wouldn’t be anywhere without Council Rock.”
Following graduation, Mackenzie will be continuing her education at Boston University where she will be majoring in communications and minoring in political science. More than likely, due to the pandemic, she won’t be starting school until January, giving her an extended summer and autumn break.
Her message to her classmates mirrors her own thoughts. “Don’t take anything for granted and cherish the moment and what you have.”