High school senior signs shine on square

  • Lumpkin County High School assistant principal Whittney McPherson carries senior signs as she and other LCHS faculty members placed the signs along downtown Dahlonega to honor the Class of 2020.
    Lumpkin County High School assistant principal Whittney McPherson carries senior signs as she and other LCHS faculty members placed the signs along downtown Dahlonega to honor the Class of 2020.
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Although Dahlonega is already revered as a charming, friendly town, those who passed through downtown in the past week were sure to notice an unusually large number of smiling faces on the square, despite mandated social distancing.
Graduating seniors from Lumpkin County High School were honored over the past week with signs displaying their name and senior photo for all to see, throughout the downtown area.
Assistant Principal Jason Lemley says it’s the least they could do to recognize the graduating class.
“We know that seniors are missing the last quarter of their senior year, and this is the time when all the fun things happen,” he said. “We are doing our best to do whatever we can special to honor our seniors while they miss these times.”
The idea started with LCHS principal Billy Kirk. A short time later the staff’s efforts had culminated with 244 signs.
“[Assistant Principal] Whittney [McPherson] designed every sign and we hired [Najja Hughey], a Work-Based Learning student, to come in and print them all,” Lemley said. “We have the machines and equipment here to make those. Then, we had some of our secretaries and parapros come in and finish them by attaching the adhesive vinyl to the corrugated plastic. It’s a pretty labor-intensive process.”
Lemley received approval from the Dahlonega City Council and the Gold Museum, then rounded up some volunteers.
“I sent out an email and asked if any of our teachers wanted to come help us place them on the square, and 25 teachers signed up immediately,” he said. “We split them into teams and made it happen on Wednesday.”
By Wednesday afternoon, the entire Class of 2020 was on display for the whole community to see.
Lumpkin County school superintendent Dr. Rob Brown was pleased with the staff’s efforts on behalf of the seniors.
“This is just another example of our staff's commitment to and love for the students at LCHS,” Brown told The Nugget. “Our staff is always coming up with ways to make our students' experience at LCHS a memorable and positive one.”
As for Lemley, he hopes it conveys a message of love to the students.
“It’s not easy being away from our students, and we want them to know that we care about them and that we love them,” he said.
Brown felt the signs were a good way of showing the seniors that this time is still about them.
“I think it is a way to show our Class of 2020 that they remain in our thoughts,” he said. “This is the time of year when we typically recognize seniors at senior nights for athletics and other traditional senior year activities, but are unable to do so this year. Recognizing them around the square is just a subtle message that says ‘we know what you are missing out on and we haven't forgotten you.’”
Locals like John Trujillo were happy to see the signs.
“I thought that was great,” Trujillo said, “anything they can do for them.”
Brown said the school is working on plans for a “virtual honors night.”
“We know a nontraditional approach is necessary, but we are still exploring the best way to share the tremendous success of these students,” he said.
Brown announced in a press release earlier in the month that the school system was “committed to having a traditional graduation ceremony if at all possible,” and are currently looking at potential dates for the ceremony in mid-July, to be held at the UNG Convocation Center.