Members of the Glen Cove community stood on the sidewalk of The Arterial Highway on the morning on Saturday, June 13 as the Glen Cove Police Department and Volunteer Fire Department blared its sirens, introducing Glen Cove High School’s class of 2020.
“As the kids were going by and the fire trucks were blowing their horns . . . I mean tears,” said Maria Abbondanza, a mother of one of the seniors. “They were happy and they haven’t been. They’ve been so sad because they feel such a loss. To see them happy I was crying. It was so emotional.”
The class of 2020 had their moment to shine, waving from the sunroof of the passenger seat in decorated cars as their community, family and friends cheered them on. “We are very happy that our community gave us this much love,” graduate Ciara Doyle said.
After driving through the parade route, the seniors got a chance to get together at City Stadium for pictures and much needed catching ups.
The event was hosted by Roni Jenkins, Kim Tognelli Heavey and Lynda Hickey, who have been organizing car parades throughout the pandemic through the Facebook group, “Car parade birthday and celebration drive bys — Long Island North Shore.”
And while this event was not the class of 2020’s official graduation, Jenkins, a mom of a senior herself, wanted to make sure that the graduates felt honored by their community for their years of hard work. “At this point, given the governor’s cap restrictions on live graduations of 150 people, really what that boils down to is 48 kids on the field at a time,” Jenkins said. “This [event] right now, as it stands, is our only opportunity to see the entire 2020 graduating class in one spot to celebrate them. It’s the only opportunity for them to be together right now.”
Jenkins wanted to emphasize that this car parade was not organized by the Glen Cove City School District. Rather, Glen Cove High School’s graduation date is yet to be decided. Seniors will have the chance to be honored by Glen Cove High School faculty and staff and receive their yearbooks through a car parade on campus June 18 and as for senior prom, the date is tentatively set for July 30.
“We are trying to do multiple events for them to acknowledge what they’ve earned,” Glen Cove High School Principal Antonio Santana said. “Starting from kindergarten, they’ve been at this for 13 years and this is it. The graduating is the culminating event of this chapter in their life and they get to move onto bigger and better things.”
Carina Gigliotti, a co-president of GCHS’s senior class, said that if there is any class equipped to handle a pandemic, it is the class of 2020. “We’ve created some group chats and we’ve created some Instagram accounts where seniors can post about how they feel so that we can stay connected with each other,” Carina said. “When the pandemic started. I did not think that we were going to get the rest of our senior year canceled. I was being optimistic, but here we are now. It’s really unfortunate, but it’s really how you look at it.”
And though the stresses of the school year began with applying to colleges rather than worrying about maintaining six feet of distance, Carina said that there are many fond memories to look back on. “My favorite memory has to be senior sunrise where all the seniors woke up really early before school,” she said. “We all met up at the football field and ate bagels and just hung out as a class.”
Santana said that while he is heartbroken that the class of 2020 lost out on their earned senior experience, he is proud of the seniors. He said that they represent the school well. “They’re resilient, they are involved,” Santana said. “I’m so proud of them and I miss them so much.”