MENOMINEE — With the formal school year coming to a close and the prospects of graduation still somewhat up in the air, parents of graduating seniors in Menominee have gotten creative in their efforts to honor their children’s accomplishments.

Dawn Caley-Bigger and Amy Laatsch, both mothers of graduating seniors, said they had started planning end-of-the-year activities for the class of 2020 last year after the prom. “We had done everything; we went shopping in Appleton and Green Bay, we held meetings and what have you to try to make the best senior experience for the kids,” Caley-Bigger said.

Laatsch and Caley-Bigger had been planning for the senior’s annual lock-in, the senior supper, all of the usual activities done for past graduating classes. “We were doing well, until everything halted with COVID,” Caley-Bigger said.

She said they stopped everything and began to look for other options when it became obvious that their students weren’t returning to school. “We thought they have every right to have something special, even if it was simple,” Laatsch said.

Caley-Bigger said she had found that schools in other states were organizing parades for their graduates, and thought it would be a good idea to bring that to Menominee. “We put our heads together and thought of the location. We thought about what kind of reception we would get on it; we found out that, if we could do it, could we stick within the guidelines?” she said.

After considering all of the variables surrounding what could be done within the distancing guidelines, the two moms drew up a poster and shared it with a social media group for parents of 2020 class members. “We apprehensively decided to share that, and we had a huge positive reception on it. I think the parents just wanted something, and this was providing that something. Other groups were sharing it, and then I had a local teacher reach out to me, and the teachers shared it within the school. I think there was an overall sense of relief that something was going to be done for the kids,” Caley-Bigger said.

She said the parade would begin at the rear parking lot of Menominee High School at 12:30 p.m. on June 6, or June 7 if it rains or otherwise needs to be rescheduled, and the route will go around the block containing the high school and Central Elementary School. She said the students are encouraged to decorate their cars and drive them around the block and said students can have one or two friends in their cars with them, just not to the point of packing their cars full of people. If need be, there will be some decorations for students’ cars if they’re unable to decorate them beforehand.

Family members of the students will be lined along the route, while remaining socially distanced, cheering them on. “Our main goal is for the kids to enjoy this time with each other, and the biggest thing is the support of the community. We want those people out there with their posters, and I hope we can see their teachers out there,” Caley-Bigger said.

Immediately after the parade, Caley-Bigger said they are planning on finding a location to host a picnic for the students. “We have to be conscious of things like food preparation. We don’t want open containers for all to share from, we will individually pack all the food for individual servings, even the silverware will be individually wrapped. Safety is our number one thing,” she said.

At this point, the picnic remains tentative as a location still has to be chosen and the status of the current restrictions could change by then. However, she said the picnic would be for the students only.

“They never had closure, it just abruptly stopped. My son made the comment, ‘I wish I would’ve known the last day of school was my last day,’” Caley-Bigger said.

“I know, for my daughter, she’s worked so hard. She said she just wanted some kind of recognition,” Laatsch said.

Caley-Bigger said if the restrictions lift by the end of summer, she would like to give the graduates the kind of end-of-school party they would’ve had if the pandemic hadn’t happened.