Last year, a swarm of Ponte Vedra High School senior Sharks swarmed the University of North Florida arena for their graduation ceremony, filled with loved ones, memories and cheer. But this year, PVHS’s graduating Sharks of 2020 were caught under the current of COVID-19, cancelling large gatherings and turning what would have been another traditional ceremony into something more original and memorable, a week’s worth of festivities on wheels.
On the seniors’ last week of school before graduation, from May 10 through 12, PVHS seniors drove through the school loop in decorated cars, picking up their caps and gowns, honor cords, additional senior awards and their high-school diplomas.
“What students don’t know, and will be surprised about, is the celebratory atmosphere created for them,” said PVHS PTO president Michaele Harried before the actual event.
The school entrance was decorated in school colors, signs and balloons, with faculty and staff dancing by the loop and cheering the passing seniors as they drove to each “stop,” dropping off last-minute textbooks, picking up grad attire and finally, receiving their high-school diploma from PVHS principal Dr. Fred Oberkehr.
“It’s an unfortunate situation, but it seems to be working out pretty well,” Oberkehr said while passing diplomas.
Nearby, the school’s academy administrator Mari Asplen morphed into a temporary PVHS cheerleader, dancing in the loop in front of the seniors’ cars, congratulating them and gifting them with a giant, festive “Fathead” poster of their graduating torsos.
“It wasn’t the graduation we wanted, but I think the kids are having fun and it’s nice to see them one more time,” Asplen said, rushing to the table to find the Fathead for the next senior in the drive-through.
Seniors were also rewarded with their own PV Shark Vanilla Cold Brew coffee from Trasca & Co. Eatery and Shark-shaped cookies baked by Cinotti’s bakery.