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School officials pondering ways to honor Class of 2020
Effingham County Schools
Dr. Yancy Ford
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Some people may not look at it this way but it is really, really important that we give those kids their time in the limelight because they gave a lot to this school district and we need to acknowledge that.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford

 SPRINGFIELD — They aren’t just members of the Effingham County Board of Education. They are parents — in some cases, grandparents — and they understand the pain that the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on students.

The board and other school officials are keenly aware that seniors at Effingham County and South Effingham high schools are hurting the most because key events in their life — the prom and commencement — are in jeopardy due to social distancing guidelines and a shelter-in-place order by Gov. Brian Kemp. Schools have been closed since March 18 and won’t reopen soon.

On April 1, Gov. Brian Kemp ordered schools closed for the remainder of 2019-20.

“It’s uncharted territory,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Yancy Ford said Saturday. “We don’t really know what the future holds right now.”

Ford said every effort will be made to honor the district's seniors even if the shelter-in-place order lasts deep into the summer.

“These seniors, not only do they need to be acknowledged as a graduating class, which (Superintendent) Dr. (Randy) Shearouse and I are working on that portion with the two high school principals (Amie Dickerson and Dr. Torian White), but all these kids that have been a part of the extracurricular activities — some of them dating all the way back to their middle school days — need to be recognized and really get some closure,” Ford said.

Ford said teachers, advisors and coaches have struggled with the COVID-19 interruption, too.

“The list goes on and on,” he said. “It’s important for them to have an opportunity to share those successes that those students have been a part of. Some people may not look at it this way but it is really, really important that we give those kids their time in the limelight because they gave a lot to this school district and we need to acknowledge that.”

Two weeks ago, Ford participated in conference calls with the coaching staffs at both high schools. He asked the coaches to develop ways to honor athletes whose final spring season was robbed from them.

Some of the district’s teams were contenders for region championships.

“During spring break, (the coaches have) some down time to think about how we can recognize those seniors who have poured their heart and soul into the last four years,” Ford said. 

Ford said the coaches will talk again after the shutdown ends to put some of the ideas together and devise a plan.

“We want to have something in place before we get out of here for the summer to acknowledge those athletes,” Ford said. “Whether that is something that we do virtually and then come back together as a group once we are able to as a state, then we will plan to do one or both of those types of activities.”