With 51 chairs spread 6 feet apart, Cooper High School seniors in maroon robes marched out to sit in them.

The school’s Class of 2020 participated in their graduation celebration Friday night at Bulldog Stadium, with families and friends seated at intervals in the stands, all following physical distancing protocols.

Last week, the students had their individual graduation ceremonies in the Bulldog Gym, with the event recorded for a video the students will receive later.

Salutatorian Pierce Rogers and Valedictorian Ethan Colley each addressed the graduating class in pre-recorded speeches, and both mentioned the unusual circumstances surrounding their graduation.

“The Cooper High School Class of 2020 will go down in history as the class that survived the lockdown. Although our senior year didn’t last as long as anyone else’s, we will surely remember it,” Rogers said. “… I have made life-long friends and learned valuable lessons in my time at this school.”

Colley said he was glad to get to see most of his classmates one last time.

“It’s pretty weird how some of us said good-bye for the last time before Spring Break,” Colley said. “We cannot change that now, but what we can do is learn to cherish the little things.

“... The madness in our lives seems to follow us around like our own personal cloud, but I see this as a good thing.

“It may seem like we’re cursed, but really, our class is prepared for trials and tribulations. High school wasn’t anything more than a test run. Now we can move on to the real thing.”

The class turned their tassels and tossed their caps into the air. After the ceremony, the grads then went to the high school parking lot to join a parade in their honor that drove through downtown.

Kim Cox is the city editor for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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