Decorated cars in the King City High School Class of 2020 caravan turn from South Vanderhurst Avenue onto Division Street as they embark on a celebratory journey through town. (Photos by Sean Roney)

KING CITY — With the growing number of vehicle-led celebrations of student achievements during the Covid-19 pandemic, the community came together to give King City High School seniors a Class of 2020 caravan as a way to recognize their accomplishment despite the unexpected turn of the final semester.

An estimated 100 seniors in 100 cars took part in the caravan on June 11, which began at King City Golf Course, then snaked through the larger streets with the cars being led by two engines from King City Fire Department. The street choices were made where people could safely go to larger parking lots and cheer for the seniors while observing social distancing.

Community members Hermie Robles and Dawn Marie Johnson-Owens, who organized the caravan, put together the celebration with two days of planning.

“We felt like they needed something special,” Robles said. “We wanted this to remain exciting and fresh while students were still here and not off to college or work.”

Johnson-Owens added, “We thought it was important to have something for them sooner than later because many will have already moved off to college or the military by the end of July.”

Though the high school hosted an official virtual graduation and has announced some form of an in-person ceremony for July 31, those pending plans have left students and parents knowing that such a ceremony is not guaranteed.

Johnson-Owens had worked to put together the Adopt a KCHS Senior page more than two months ago, and reached out there and at other online venues to see who could help.

“We had community members step up and help with decorating, running the caravan, getting the cars where they needed to be, donating all the flowers and so much more,” Johnson-Owens said.

“We weren’t asking for streets to be blocked off and the kids would need to follow all the rules of the traffic laws, so we thought a caravan would work out,” she continued. “Within less than a week, we were able to design and have cards printed, order sunflowers and have masks made to hand out to each senior.”

There were also backdrop decorations for seniors to be able to take pictures and remember the unique graduation celebration for 2020. Robles, a local photographer, took those graduate portraits.

“The community was overwhelmed with all the positive outcome,” Robles said. “The seniors shouted as they went by, ‘This was so much fun’ and ‘This should be a tradition that continues each year.’”

“The outpouring of love from our community has been amazing,” Johnson-Owens said. “The community played a huge role in this whole thing, we couldn’t have done this without them.”

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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