NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A parade and a flyover in honor of New Haven Public School 2020 graduates took place Thursday morning.
The city had the graduate car parade through Lighthouse Point Park.
All the New Haven Public School graduates were invited to decorate their cars. Their teachers, principals, and administrators will line up – socially distanced, of course – and wave to their students as they drive by.
Meanwhile, a small plane flew above Lighthouse Park and made its way around all of the city’s neighborhoods, while waving a banner congratulating the graduating classes of 2020.
The Assistant Superintendent says their seniors have been resilient coping in this pandemic.
“As one of the largest school districts in the state,” Dr.Paul Whyte said, “we have to do as much of a spectacle as we can to support our kids to tell them how much we love them and how proud we are of them.”
The principal of James Hillhouse High School, Glen Worthy said of the event, “This is all our teachers here to represent our students letting them know we’re behind them and we’re celebrating their accomplishment, their successes.”
Teacher Deidre Johnson added, “We hope that this is an alternative to make them feel really special and something that they will never forget.”
Christoph Whitbeck, a teacher at Metropolitan Business Academy added, “People are coming out and…having a good time celebrating the kids; it’s really awesome.”
The graduates drove through to applause, signs, and balloons.
Tayona Williams, a recent grad at Hill Regional Career High School said, “It made me excited to want to graduate. Quarantine was so depressing so this really lifted my spirits.”
Worthy added, “The kids didn’t have the opportunity to have a traditional graduation celebration of their accomplishments, of the four years of high school. So this is something to make up for it and celebrate those kids.”
Seniors told News 8, seeing all the different schools celebrating together was emotional.
Williams added, “There’s so much support. They are so supportive during this hard time; I appreciate that a lot.”
The mayor of New Haven, Justin Elicker had a message for the graduates while he held up a sign at the drive-by parade: “This is an exciting time for you to set the tone for your future. My hope is that these students will lead very productive lives and positive lives doing everything from going on to college, to going into the workforce.”
Residents of downtown New Haven were able to look up and see the plane from their own homes.
According to the mayor and Dr. Whyte, the salute was a city-wide effort between the parks department, police, fire, and youth services.