You could check off almost every emotion in the book when it came to what the graduating seniors and the townspeople were feeling during the one-hour drive through Lyons’ streets this past Thursday evening: Grief. Happiness. Anger. Loss. Love. It was the first time that most of them had seen each other face to face in a couple of months due to the stay-at-home orders. The bittersweet celebration will be remembered forever by all who participated.
The Class of 2020 was the first sixth grade elementary school graduating class after the flood disaster in Lyons in 2013. Six years later, those same students find themselves again facing temporarily closed classrooms and unprecedented ways of participating in school lessons as they prepare to graduate from twelfth grade during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Lyons, there is a saying, “Don’t you just love Lyons?” It is posted on Lyons Happenings Facebook page when a local person steps up to perform an act of kindness and helps a stranger. With no traditional graduation ceremony slated, it took just one person, then another person, then one more person to make things happen.
“Wendy Hayden suggested the idea to my mom, and I mentioned it to Charlotte (Rogers), and then we brought it to Rosie in early May,” said Olivia Cope. These three are the kind of people who make things happen: Olivia is the vice president of Student Body, and chair of the Student Advisory Council to the Town of Lyons. Charlotte Rogers is the president of the Student Body. And Rosie is the nickname of the school’s Resource Officer Deputy, Mitch Rosebrough.
In just two weeks, the threesome organized a caravan for the 40 graduating seniors through the neighborhood streets of downtown Lyons, consisting of approximately 30 decorated cars.
“This is probably the best thing that has happened for the school this year,” said Rosebrough. “People came out and were cheering and honking and had noisemakers. The kiddos deserve it. It was also a chance for them to see each other before they left town. And, they got to say goodbye to the juniors and sophomores too.”
He arranged to get approval from the Town for the event, got the Fire Department to drive an emergency vehicle at the front and back of the parade, and arranged the route so that it would not run afoul of CDOT’s CO Highway 36 rules and regulations.
The caravan began on Stone Canyon Drive, then crossed over 36 and circled the neighborhood next to the high school. After passing in front of the school, it turned down McConnell Drive, going toward the post office on Railroad Avenue. It then crossed the highway again, and went along High Street. It traveled up and then back along Fifth Avenue, ending in the elementary school parking lot.
The day brought the school year’s fun off-campus events full circle. Around Labor Day weekend each year, the incoming seniors climb the hill behind the Middle/High School and paint the traditional “L” on the mountainside.
“This has been going on for decades,” said Officer Rosebrough. “I told them I’m not going to climb that hill. I’m too old. You’re young adults. You do it carefully. I kept an eye on them.”
“Even when I started sending out emails to everyone about the caravan I started getting really excited about seeing all my classmates again,” said Rogers. “I was not sure how the community was going to respond. Now I’m super happy and grateful that I got to set something up, and I got great feedback. People want it to happen every year.”
The 2020 seniors’ last day was May 13, and graduation will be July 25. See the “Senior Year 2020 Wrap Up” article for a brief summary of highlights of the seniors’ school year. The graduation photographs and biographies will be posted in mid-June on this web site.