WASILLA — All the 2020 Valley graduates are experiencing virtual graduations due to COVID-19, leading many to come up with creative ways to make the most of the situation.

Schools like Redington Jr./Sr. High School found a way to celebrate their seniors’ successes in person while staying socially distant, a car parade.

“I’m excited for the kids. I’m excited we got to still see them,” Redington Jr./Sr. High School principal Thomas Lytle said.

Redington teachers and staff stood outside the main entrance of the school with diplomas and care baskets filled with helpful items in hand May 12.

Supporting staff and families filled the main parking lot, cheering and honking their horns as the lineup of grads and their families slowly drove toward the school.

Several families decorated their vehicles for the parade. Many of the grads stuck their heads out the window or stood in the back of the family pickup truck to wave at everyone.

One by one, each vehicle slowly made its way to the front of the line, getting the chance to pull into the main parking lot for a bombardment of honking, applause, then finally, a high school diploma delivered face to face.

“Seeing their smiles makes this whole thing worth it,” Lytle said.

The car parade took place hours before their pre-recorded graduation ceremony started. Faculty members like assistant principal Matt Swalling were happy they figured out a way to mark this major milestone beyond a screen.

“It’s just a way to celebrate them,” Swalling said.

When the car parade was all said and done, there were only three baskets left. Lytle and his colleagues were very satisfied with the overall turnout. He said that it’s sad and unfair their seniors couldn’t have the full, conventional graduation, but this alternative solution was “definitely a success.”

“You have to make the best out of every life lesson,” Lytle said. “This is the right way considering our circumstances.”

Later that evening, Redington grads tuned into the real time broadcast of their pre-recorded ceremony.

“This simply put, is not what we expected,” Lytle said to the camera.

Lytle’s departing advice to the 2020 grads was to embrace the unexpected and use that as fuel for growth moving forward.

“You can use what you now know to embrace every unexpected circumstance that life may throw at you, being convinced you can overcome because you have chosen a perspective that will make you unstoppable,” Lytle said.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

Redington class of 2020

Marian Aparezuk, Anneliese Bayne, Dylan Beiswenger, Isaac Bennett, Emily Bodek, Austin Campbell, Michael Casida, Chai Chao, Joseph Church, Bryanna Crawford, Bryce Daniels, Orion Daniels, Justin Dick, Kayleana Ford, Abigaile Fuller, Jesus Garcia, Patrick George, Brooke Harmon, McKenzie Hobbs, Tyler Holsapple, Cynthia Home, Riley Jacko, Jack Jenkins, Sebastian Jernigan, Daniel Kane, Anna Katsuba, Gabriel Kraskov, Preston Kulhanek, Varvara Kuzmin, Blaine Lee, Clayton McCormick, Gavin Metcalf, Jessica Morganflash, Ethan Namcheck, Kaitlin Neuman, Crystal Norton, Kaylee Okitkon, Alixandra Pawlek, Samuel Pike, Antonio Rogers, Walker Ryan, Kristen Shirley, Logan Van Dort, Kathryn Wilkerson, Devon Williams, Hailey Williams, Thor Williamson.

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