NewsCoronavirus

Actions

Community holds drive-thru celebration for high school graduates

Many graduates aren't able to walk across the stage this month, but the Wimauma community is making sure they can still celebrate.
poster.jpg
Posted at 11:48 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 23:49:26-04

WIMAUMA, Fla. -- Many graduates aren't able to walk across the stage this month, but the Wimauma community is making sure they can still celebrate.

On Thursday, Enterprising Latinas and the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce held a "drive-thru" graduation for 25 students from Lennard High School, in place of the chamber's traditional banquet.

"I’m just so in shock by everything that has happened. I’m very thankful for all the teachers that have supported us throughout all these years I’m very thankful," said Marisol Neri-Baxcajay.

She and her twin sister, Rosal, were among those participating.

"It means everything because we weren’t able to have the annual migrant banquet. I didn’t even think this was possible," said Rosal.

The first stop included applause and recognition. At the next stop, families received a catered meal to take home. Then, mothers received flowers following a picture station for the graduates to get a photo.

"It just gives them the applause from the community and the thumbs up you did this and it’s not going unnoticed," said Melanie Davis, the chamber's executive director.

The last stop was a surprise, though. Students were handed gifts, including a laptop. It was thanks to a neighbor's donation of thousands of dollars.

"She said she had four vacations planned between January and July and they all got canceled and she thought, 'You know what? I need to put this money to good use. What can I do?'" said Davis.

Among the students, the memory of a classmate was top of mind too. Davis said Richard Canales Calles was determined to graduate. He died in March from cancer, just days after they held a celebration for him.

"This would be his class, this would be his celebration as well and it is it’s he’s here with all of us," said Davis.

The group of students, despite the current times, looking ahead.

The twins plan to go to USF in the fall to study nursing.

"Always look at the positive side, even though there’s always going to be something negative, but always try to make the best out of something," said Rosal.