The Oakdale High School Class of 2020 is living through many firsts. While for most it is not ideal, as the weeks go by it seems to be equally as hard or harder on the parents.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken the final few months of the Class of 2020’s senior year from activity-filled to uncertain. Most immediate would be the uncertainty of graduation plans, which the district remains committed to hosting.
Yet as the class journeys through this unforeseen and uncharted path, Oakdale parents are getting creative. Social media posts, door decorating (honoring their graduate) and the like have become the new norm for the community as they do their best to acknowledge the graduating Mustangs.
Sandi Casey is one such parent, who not only found a unique way to honor her daughter Paige Morgan, but all Senior Mustangs.
“This all started for me, when I saw a sign from another school honoring their senior,” Casey said of a yard sign she initially saw in another county.
“So for me, I wanted to order one for my daughter for sure,” she continued.
Turning to an OHS Facebook Group, Casey inquired on a place to purchase one such sign. The result of her question quickly took off as other parents expressed the same desire.
Not one to sit idle Casey did some homework and found the resources to get signs for all who were interested. With an initial order of 45 personalized signs, she got to work. As the orders grew, she was contacted by OHS Vice Principal Shannon Kettering.
Kettering had apparently collaborated with Leadership Advisor Guy Fowler, as well as the leadership students and shared with Casey they were interested in purchasing 338 uniform “Congratulations Mustangs” signs.
Recognizing the unique climate and circumstance of the senior class, Kettering requested one more thing of the mother and community member.
“My job was basically to get 20 or 25 people to deliver them as a surprise,” she said.
Casey shared as a parent volunteer for Sober Grad Night, she quickly reached out to her core 15, who were all immediately on board. That group quickly morphed to 25 and distribution lists were assigned.
“Every single one of them was on board,” Casey said of the eager parent volunteers, adding she never expected her simple inquiry to get this big.
“Somehow I seem to be in the middle of a lot of things, a lot of the time, but this was just because I wanted to get a sign for my kid,” she continued.
The sign delivery mission on Friday, April 17 received a lot of outside media attention, which Casey said she was surprised by. Her mission, however, remained focused on the students and surprising them with the signs acknowledging their accomplishment.
Casey shared the reception from the students and their families made the work well worth the effort.
“To see the posts of the kids and the thankfulness. To receive messages and phone calls,” Casey confided. “Lots of tears of joy for this momma to say the least.”
Signs have shown up, not only on the lawns of senior graduates with the personalized versions, but also in front of businesses, the school district office and more with the more generic ‘congratulations’ wishes for the Mustangs.
“If you speak up in Oakdale, generally you have somebody to lock arms with you, so to speak,” Casey summarized. “That’s what makes Oakdale so special.”