Elementary graduation ceremony swapped for 'backwards parade'

Posted at 4:07 PM, May 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-10 12:50:44-04

INDEPENDENCE, Ky. — Beechgrove Elementary teachers and staff cheered on more than 100 fifth-graders Saturday during their elementary graduation. Only social distancing sent them into middle school through a “backwards parade.”

Beechgrove teachers and staff stood on the sides, wearing masks and gloves, from a distance.

Fifth-grader Julianna Goodman is the fourth — and last — sibling in her family graduating from Beechgrove Elementary.

“I’m happy. I’m sad that I’m leaving Beechgrove, though,” Goodman said.

Her father said her picture-perfect moment wasn’t what they expected, but it was a graduation they’ll never forget.

“She’ll be able to experience something that the other kids didn’t get to experience. I think it’s a unique experience — something she’ll always remember. It’s special. I appreciate the school doing it to celebrate!” Tim Goodman said.

Julianna is one of more than 130 fifth-graders seeing their teachers for the first time since mid-March because of COVID-19 — with Zoom meetings being the exception.

She misses her friends and her teacher.

“I miss Ms. Mcklindon and all my friends. One of my friend’s name is Stevie, so I miss her a lot,” she said.

The students aren’t the only ones having a hard time with the separation. Beechgrove Elementary principal Michael Jacks said it was hard for teachers to say goodbye from a distance.

“Our teachers are really struggling with this — not saying bye to them,” Jacks said. “This year, I’m remarkably proud because they’ve handled this whole opportunity to do something differently bravely and courageously and without complaint. For that, I’m very proud of them.”

Julianna Goodman and her classmates left graduation today with a diploma, a t-shirt and a yard sign to signify to neighbors their next big step.

Julianna will be heading to Twenhofel Middle School next year, but she’ll always remember the elementary school she loves so much.

“Thank you to our staff at Beechgrove,” she said. “They’re amazing — we love them! They’re always there, they’ll always be there and be kind to me always!”