TALLMADGE – Gov. Mike DeWine has closed schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, which ends June 4 for the district, but plans are being made for the 195 graduating seniors.
On May 27 at 6 p.m. a Graduation Parade will recognize and celebrate the Class of 2020.
Tallmadge High School and the city of Tallmadge are planning a parade that will begin at the high school and make its way through the city. Seniors can decorate their cars, wear their cap and gown and have a family member drive them in a parade around town.
Community members can wear blue and gold, make signs and noisemakers and cheer the seniors as the parade goes by.
A parade route and more details will be shared at a future date. Other events and activities are also being planned for the Class of 2020, and will be shared when finalized.
Normally the seniors have a prom, breakfast, graduation practice and graduation in May and alternative dates are tentatively scheduled but state guidelines need to be followed, according to Superintendent Jeff Ferguson.
"Some of the things will depend on large group gatherings," Ferguson said. "We are committed to giving these seniors the experience we are used to. We understand the horrific crisis we’re in with people losing jobs and their lives, but we also know in the school community family, senior activities are a culmination of 13 years of hard work and they are milestones in a student’s life."
Graduation is one of a student’s first big adult milestones, Ferguson said. Some other activities may not be realistic to reschedule, but the school district will try to reschedule the graduation event.
"If we’re able to have graduation, that’s a sure sign we’re on the other side of this crisis, but I’m a realist, and this crisis may be with us for a few months," Ferguson said.
If events are delayed, yearbooks, which are normally processed during the summer and distributed in the fall, may also be delayed for distribution in order to include photographs of those rescheduled events, he said.
Even though schools are closed, the school district continues to meet its families’ essential needs for food, wellness and time together, he said. School is important, but those things are more important.
Tallmadge school closure hotline meals began with 160 people signed up in March and has reached more than 300 families.
Breakfast and lunch are provided for three days on Monday and two days on Thursday between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Tallmadge Middle School and Saxon Village, 265 North Thomas Road.
The meals distributed must meet state health requirements, which include milk and some perishables. The meals should be refrigerated if not eaten right away.
Any Tallmadge student under 18 can have a meal by calling the School Closure Meal Hotline 330-633-5587 or go to tallmadgeschools.org.
The Tallmadge Rotary delivers meals for those who don’t have transportation, he said. The Dare to Share program provides weekend bags for students who need weekend meals.
Kim Ray has been volunteering the last three years with the Tallmadge School District on the Blue Devils Dare to Share (D2S) program. D2S is a weekend nutrition program that provides 2 breakfast items, 2 lunch items, 2 snacks, milk and fruit to kids in the Tallmadge system in need.
"Now with the COVID-19 situation, we are distributing the bags throughout Tallmadge on Thursday, in concert with the school district," Ray said in a Facebook post. "The number of bags we're putting together has more than doubled and we are in need of donations - either monetary or of food."
Some of the items needed are single serve, easy to heat/eat items such as ramen noodles, tuna fish, soup, spaghetti O's, pudding cups, peanut butter, popcorn, breakfast bars and shelf stable milk, she said. Other items needed include toilet paper, paper towel, toothpaste and soap.
Anyone interested in donating can email Ray at firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks can be made out to Blue Devils Dare to Share.
Go to the school website www.tallmdageschools.org for "frequently asked questions" which is updated daily.
Gannett reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at email@example.com