Every year, Jordan High School celebrates the accomplishments of seniors by displaying banners featuring the graduate's name along with the college or university they will be attending in the fall.
The event is typically accompanied by a formal unveiling where the students can see their names on the banner and celebrate with refreshments with their peers. But this year due to COVID-19, the unveiling didn't feature any events or in-person celebrations.
"The dynamics of 2020 are like no other with students leaving campus early and not being able to participate in the usual senior activities," Rex Richardson, Ninth District City Councilman, said. "We wanted to recognize every single student this year, so we were sure to include all of the graduates."
In previous years, only graduates headed to college or universities were featured, but Richardson said that all graduates should be acknowledged for their hard work in high school, especially after finishing a school year at home, without friends or celebrations. The banners are hung from light posts throughout the area.
"The idea is to highlight the work that graduates have done and their achievement, because getting into university or college, or graduating high school, is a big deal," Richardson said. "It reminds people how hard these kids are working every day, uncertainty or not."
The effort is a partnership between the Long Beach Unified School District and the Ninth City Council District. For the last six years, Richardson and Megan Kerr, Long Beach Unified School District board member, have made it a priority to make the banners a permanent fixture for graduates.
Incoming seniors are likely to experience many of the same changes that 2020 seniors faced, including limited interaction with peers and a lack of social events. LBUSD announced earlier this month that school operations will remain largely online, with an option for in-person classes. If that continues, graduating seniors might once again miss out on school dances and traditional graduation events.
But for now, Richardson said that it's important to focus on the work students continue to accomplish despite having their environment drastically change.
"You'll see freshmen who look at those banners and are excited because when they're a senior, they'll have their name on those banners," he said. "We want to help keep that momentum going, so I see us doing this every year, no matter what comes up."
A total of 66 banners were placed along Atlantic Avenue, Artesia Boulevard, Long Beach Boulevard and South Street. They will be displayed through Thursday, Sept. 10.
For more information about LBUSD's 2020-21 school year, go to lbschools.net.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.