WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County High School held its first drive-through graduation ceremony on Saturday, July 25, to honor graduates and celebrate their accomplishments.

The ceremony was held in compliance with current state regulations for gatherings, facial coverings and social distancing, as NC remains in Phase 2.

ACHS faculty, as well as members of the school system and board of education have been working to plan a ceremony to honor the graduates since the cancelation of the traditional graduation ceremony.

“We were excited to see and celebrate our 2020 graduates and their accomplishments on Saturday,” said Ashe County High School Principal Amanda Hipp. “It was a beautiful day, and I am thankful for all our staff, board of education members, Superintendent (Eisa) Cox and retired Superintendent (Phyllis) Yates that came out to support our seniors. I am truly blessed to have been able to talk to each graduate as they came across the stage. I am so proud of these young men and women and what they have accomplished. I know they are going to go out in the world and make a difference.”

The senior class was honored with a parade downtown on May 29, which would have been its graduation date. Project Graduation, which has been a staple of graduation for local graduates since 1992, was held virtually after the parade. Despite the cancelation of the actual event, PG committee leaders Dianne Eldreth and Vickie Herman led fundraising efforts to ensure that each senior received a t-shirt like in previous years and all graduates received a prize.

The drive-through ceremony, which began at 8 a.m., gave graduates the opportunity to walk across a stage in the front parking lot of the school with their loved ones present.

Prior to their graduate walking across the stage, family cars were able to park directly in front of the stage and were able to take pictures of the special moment. There were also photo opportunities for graduates in two balloon arches, which were located at the beginning and exit of the ceremony. The second balloon arch contained large silver balloons with the numerals “2020” for graduates to take photos in front of with their families before leaving.

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