On Saturday, May 2, East Kingston’s Main Street was decorated with banners, each with a picture and name of a graduating high school senior. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, most all senior activities at Exeter High School and across the country have been cancelled or delayed until deemed safe. This left the senior class, understandably, disappointed. There have been many social media campaigns and messages of support throughout the SAU16 community, including lawn signs, but the banner project in East Kingston is a representation of an entire town coming together to celebrate.
“I started this project because my son is a graduate of EHS this year and I was searching for a way to celebrate this occasion,” said Karen McMahon, the organizer of the project in East Kingston. She says the idea came from the banners that EHS displays on senior night for the sporting events, “I attended a town selectman meeting for their thoughts… everyone was on board with the idea.” McMahon had the help of the local police department, additional senior parents, one of whom helped with the installation of the banners. The banners include both EHS seniors and private school seniors who reside in East Kingston.
“It was fun to see all my friends up there when I drove by!” James Hobsen, a current senior, said when asked about his reaction to the banners. East Kingston only has a population of 2,423 people, all of whom rally around their community members.
“[The banners] really show how great our community is and they want to honor us seniors.” said Julianna Perrella, another graduating senior, “It makes me really proud to be part of such an amazing town!”
The country is showing an outpouring of support for seniors, from celebrity proms to calls for former presidents to host a national commencement.
When asked if she had any messages for the current senior class, McMahon said, “You didn’t sign up for this lesson in life and there will be no ‘course credits’ for this. Please know that this lesson doesn’t go unnoticed by us all. We are so proud of each and everyone of you persevering through this stage of your life, and because of this we know that each and everyone of you are valuable members of our society going forward. Take pride in how far you have come, and have faith in where you will go!”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.