Wakulla spirit shines in one-of-a-kind drive-by graduation

By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News
May 22, 2020

CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WCTV) –There wasn't a crowd. There wasn't a walk across the stage. But there was plenty of spirit and emotion in Wakulla County as the high school hosted a first-of-its kind drive-by graduation.

School leaders spent weeks planning the event, and it had plenty of logistical challenges. More than 330 graduates, with their families in tow, lined up in the stadium parking lot. One by one, they trickled around the school, eventually meeting Superintendent Bobby Pearce to receive the diploma.

No handshake this time, just a window roll-down. Pearce said his staff worked hard to find a compromise during this tough time

"This is what we needed to do to give our kids some closure," he said.

Diploma in hand, the graduates made their way to the side of the school where they could take socially distanced professional photos. But the fun was just beginning.

Parents had worked to create a parade route to honor the graduates as they left school property. Families stood by their cars, whooping and hollering for each grad- perhaps loudest for their own loved one in a cap and gown.

Lori Crum was there to cheer on her neice.

"These poor kids, but we're trying to make the best of it and that's all we can do," she said.

"We helped her get ready, painted the car, blew up balloons, but it's no comparison."

Farther down the route, Stephanie Tully finally saw her son drive by. She said it was an exciting moment, but nothing like her WHS graduation decades ago.

"Lots of tears, lots of joy as they were going by with everybody cheering," she said.

"it actually turned out better than any of us could imagine," she said.

The school district still hopes to hold a traditional graduation ceremony later this summer once guidelines indicate it's safe to do so. But this drive-by experiment provided a little bit of joy to graduates and their families at a time they needed it the most.