Wakefield community 'lights up' to recognize seniors, health care workers

The Wakefield community gathered together on April 17 to celebrate the Wakefield Community Schools class of 2020 and the town's health care workers by turning on the lights of the baseball field for 20 minutes and 20 seconds. Cars were encouraged to drive through Graves Park and honk their horns in honor of the two groups.

Wakefield secondary principal Matt Farup said he was inspired to organize the event after seeing other schools doing similar things around the state. For he and his staff, it helped ease some of the sting from having to end classroom instruction early.

"We're trying to hold things together, academically and give our kids good learning opportunities, but the thing we miss the most is recognizing our kids," Farup said.

While the end of the year usually means fun activities and taking time to recognize students for their many achievements, the informal drive through the park allowed the seniors to see that their teachers and administration are still thinking about them.

"I think it was a t good idea just to let, especially the class of 2020 know, that we haven't forgotten about them," Farup said. "We care for them we miss them immensely. We didn't think we could even miss kids that much but we miss them we also know that this is tough on them."

Farup said prior to school buildings shutting down the senior class was busy planning things like graduation, award ceremonies and the Senior Day Away. Farup said he and his staff feel for the students and all the missed activities and missed time the class of 2020 will have.

"My biggest concern is they're home alone or they're home and thinking that we forgot about them, or we have turned the page and we're looking forward to next year," Farup said. "We are but, we still have some things to wrap up and we want to make sure these kids know how much we care for them."

Wakefield's class of 2020 has 32 students who will have some sort of graduation ceremony, though what type is still up in the air. There was also an honorary member of the class, an exchange student who had to cut her trip early.

The school is still actively working to ensure that students get to experience some of those end-of-year traditions even if they have to experience them in a new way.

"We're still gonna reward and award some of those great performances and great achievements for our kids," Farup said.

The senior class will also receive yard signs to celebrate the fact that they are graduating even if the last part of the year's classes were held from home. In addition, Wakefield Community Schools is still trying to find a way to celebrate May 17, the original date for set for graduation.

"I don't know exactly the details, but May 17 was graduation and we don't want that day to go by without some kind of special recognition," Farup said. "Obviously we have to abide by the health measures we've been given but we want to do some celebration on the 17th."

The school also hopes to re-schedule some sort of graduation ceremony. All in all, Farup said he's not only proud of his students, he's proud of his staff as well.

"I'm very proud of my staff and very proud of the work they've done. We have some challenging decisions to make ahead, but I really believe my staff has continually provided our kids opportunities to continue to learn," Farup said. "We know this is not an ideal situation so we're trying to make the best of a bad situation and to minimize the damage. We know our kids are going to take a hit academically and emotionally, we just hope and pray that we get an opportunity to get them back soon."

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