Filled with a deep purpose to honor its seniors, Farragut High School administrators and teachers worked non-stop last week, hand-delivering “Farragut High School Class of 2020” yard signs to more than 460 students.
“We wanted to find a way to celebrate each and every student in a very small way,” FHS Principal Dr. John Bartlett said. “With this year ending the way it did, we just want them to know we are proud of them and wish them the very best in the future.
“In a small way, the signs give us a chance to recognize every student,” he added.
“I think it’s been amazing how the staff has embraced this effort,” said Brad Smith, grade-level administrator for the 2020 senior class and the Class of 2024. “Originally, I had plans to deliver the signs systematically, geographically. (But) the staff was adamant that they have the opportunity to deliver signs to the kids they know.
“Within a couple of days, all of the 460-plus seniors had been claimed by the teachers,” he added.
“It really reminded us the power that building positive relationships with kids can have — something we’re going to continue to highlight as a school.”
FHS teachers Kelly Gruhn and Laura Cope Austin delivered signs throughout the week to students they had selected.
“We miss our kids so much,” Gruhn said. “Any chance to see their faces is joy.”
Jason Mayfield, FHS varsity girls basketball head coach, and his wife, Jennifer, delivered signs to all his senior players, as did many of the other sports coaches, including varsity softball head coach Nick Green.
Parents were just as delighted as their teenagers in the impromptu mini-celebrations.
Debi Delph, whose senior son, Matthew Delph, was greeted by Bartlett and two FHS assistant principals, Steve Killian and Karey Lowdermilk, as they brought his sign, posted a photo of the four on Facebook and noted, “2020: The year it’s actually a good thing when three principals show up at your house.
“Thank you FHS for celebrating our seniors!!”
Lisa Woody’s daughter, Catelyn Woody, received a sign from teachers Angela Breeding, Chelsea Osborne and Valerie Cagle
“Some of the very best teachers who impacted both Cate and Carson (her son),” Woody said about these teachers. “I love these people.”
Unlike the independent senior adoption program highlighted last week in farragutpress, the senior signs were provided by the school, which also is making other plans to honor the class, including an electronic sign, which was set to go live Monday, April 27, at the Taco Bell digital billboard along Lovell Road.
Smith reported on some other celebrations in the works, including one on social media, which will be incoproated on the school’s website.
Exact details concerning graduation commemorations was still evolving at deadline, Smith said.
“Administration has almost daily conversations about what that might look like. We’ll follow district guidelines, but as soon as we get the go-ahead, we will act swiftly and communicate to all.”
Smith said the yard signs were ordered through Bacon & Co., which provided a quick turnaround.
Julie Ann Wilkerson, account executive with Lamar Advertising, approached FHS and several other local schools, offering “considerable discounts” for the electronic signs.
While her own children attend South-Doyle, she said she had the idea of “boosting morale during Covid-19 by recognizing their grads with a billboard.
“I’m excited for them,” Wilkerson added. “I truly hope it lifts their spirits.”