By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon’s high school graduates will be “on parade” this Saturday as senior celebrations kick off.
Class of 2021 members are invited to participate in the Yukon 2021 Senior Parade at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 8 through the streets of Yukon.
“This is to honor all seniors of Yukon, not just Yukon High School,” parade coordinator Michelle Terry emphasized. “Any Yukon senior – no matter where they go to school – is eligible to participate.”
So, graduating seniors at Southwest Covenant, the Yukon Virtual School and homeschoolers are encouraged to join YHS students for this Saturday’s honor ride through Yukon.
“The parade is organized by parents, not by the school or Project Graduation,” said Terry, parent of a YHS 2021 senior. “This is the start of senior celebrations for the month of May.”
The Yukon 2021 Senior Parade route starts at the YHS campus, then heads north on Yukon Parkway, west of Main Street, south on Garth Brooks Boulevard, east on Vandament, and ends back at the high school.
The public is encouraged to come out, cheer and clap for this year’s Yukon seniors.
“We would love for members of our community to stand on every street corner along the route, honk, wave and hold up signs,” Terry envisioned. “We would love to have all of the support we can get to celebrate this group of kids.”
Participating Yukon seniors should line up starting at 2 p.m. May 8 in the YHS parking lot, 1777 S Yukon Parkway. Terry hopes at least 280 seniors – about half of the Class of 2021 – participates in the parade.
“Last year, we had several students who drove their own vehicles,” Terry shared. “In other cases, parents drove their children so they could wave and pay attention to the crowd.
“A vehicle in motion is obviously a liability, so we have to make sure that we follow all safety rules.”
Any Yukon high school senior who wants to participate in Saturday afternoon’s parade must sign a liability waiver; if the student is under 18, their parent signs.
The waiver is posted on the “Yukon 2021 Senior Parade” Facebook page and paper copies may be picked up from a display box at Conrad Marr Drug, 948 S Yukon Parkway.
“That is their ticket to the event,” Terry said. “They have to have a signed release or waiver.”
Professional photos of all participating Yukon seniors and a video will be taken at Saturday afternoon’s parade. Pictures will be provided at no charge to students.
FIRST SENIOR PARADE IN 2020
The first Yukon Senior Parade to honor graduating seniors was in 2020. The event was created by Amy Barton, Dawn Novosad and Heather Murphy after COVID-19 restrictions canceled or curtailed graduation activities.
“Those three women did such an awesome job last year and created a wonderful ‘roadmap’ for me this year,” said Terry, who helped with that inaugural Yukon Senior Parade. “It made my life super simple.
“We’ve had such an ‘on-again, off-again’ year this year, some parents felt like it was a great idea to honor our seniors and continue this new tradition,” she added.
“The kids really enjoyed it immensely last year so we decided we needed to ‘jump in’ and see what we could do to make it happen.”
The City of Yukon has given organizers permission to again have the Yukon Senior Parade on city streets, with Yukon Police helping ensure traffic safety.
“We’re blessed and are gracious they’re allowing us to honor these seniors,” Terry said.
This has been a challenging school year for some graduating seniors, with many switching between online and in-person learning due to COVID restrictions.
“With the year that these students have had, I don’t know that they’ve truly felt like seniors,” Terry said. “I’m excited for them to get the opportunity to actually have a senior celebration with their friends and classmates.”
Since seating is limited at Yukon’s graduation ceremony, this Saturday’s parade is a great opportunity for families to come out and celebrate their graduating seniors’ accomplishments.
YHS LUMINARY WALK
The YHS Class of 2021 will be celebrated again later this Saturday with Yukon Project Graduation’s first “Luminary Walk” from 8-10 p.m. May 8 at Chisholm Trail Park, 500 E Vandament.
“We’re hoping this will be a ‘family day’ where they get to celebrate their seniors all day – they just go from one event to the next,” Terry said.
The luminaries – honoring members of the YHS Class of 2021 – will be set up around the small pond by the park’s large gazebo.
Each bag will have a graduate name on the front and sponsor on the back,
YHS seniors, their families and the public are invited to celebrate this year’s graduating class.
Saturday night’s inaugural Luminary Walk is a new fund-raising benefit for Yukon Project Graduation, which celebrates its 30th year this spring.
The 2021 Yukon Project Graduation “big event” will be 6:30-10:30 p.m. Thursday, May 20 at Miller Stadium on the YHS campus, 1777 S Yukon Parkway.
The annual YHS Commencement will be 7 p.m. Friday, May 21 at Miller Stadium. Each graduate gets eight tickets for family and friends to attend.
Southwest Covenant’s graduation on May 21 will be inside Covenant Community Church, 2250 S Yukon Parkway.