Russell Nelson

2020 graduate Russell Nelson, stands in front of Buffalo Township fire truck.  He and other graduates participated in a parking lot parade as part of their send off. Photos by Stan Schwartz

BOWLING GREEN—It wasn’t quite the graduation ceremony they wanted, but the 2020 Bowling Green High School seniors got quite a send off on Saturday.

A nice dinner was being served in the parking lot area of B&B Automotive along Bus. 61. The dinner was catered by Merna’s Kitchen. Students were able to eat and visit before heading over to the high school parking lot. There, teachers and administrators were gathering to say farewell to the 2020 graduates.

All during the week, students had picked out times to come to school in their caps and gowns to walk across the stage and pick up their diplomas.

“We took about four hours each day and brought in all 101 kids, and walked them across the stage on video,” said Principal Scott Mullins. He noted that Kim Luebrecht was the person handling the video. A commencement speaker was going to be added during the weekend. Photos from the event, as well as a CD of all the graduates would be created and given to the students and their families.

Students in the composition class were turning in videos of themselves giving a speech. One of those speeches would be picked and added to the video of the graduation, he said.

All the pieces would be woven together to create a virtual graduation. Even the senior members of the concert choir came in to sing for the video.

Mullins said all but one student participated.

“It didn’t seem like he was going to come in anyway,” he said. “But if he shows up on June 5, that would be OK, too.” If not, they do have senior photos, and one of those can be put into the video.

Mullins had picked this version of graduation because not all the seniors would be around to attend a more traditional graduation ceremony set for June 5. Some graduates had opted to enter the military and would be leaving shortly after graduation.

Such is the case for Russell Nelson. He had already gone through basic training for the National Guard, but said he was set to leave for Texas for additional medical training. He is a firefighter for the Buffalo Township Fire Protection District and volunteers at the Pike County Memorial Hospital.

Fire Chief Jason House thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for Russell, which is why he brought one of the station’s fire trucks and a command vehicle to participate in a parade through the school’s parking lot for the seniors.

Teachers and administrators had set up chairs on the sidewalk outside the school. School board members and others either sat in their cars in the parking lot, or stood in the gravel lot across from the school to wave and hold signs for the seniors.

Right at 6 p.m., a Bowling Green fire truck, followed closely by the Buffalo Township truck fired up their engines and turned on their emergency lights. Cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles, joined the procession as it went around the parking lot and then down Adams Street, heading toward S. Court Street. Some of them would continue on their own to do “the lap” around town. But the majority of them ended up parking in the lot next to the Crossroads General Store.

It may not have been a traditional ceremony, but the people of Bowling Green wanted to make sure the graduating seniors knew they were thinking about them and to let them know how proud they were for making it to the next stage in their lives.

Many people lined the streets along the lap, holding signs and cheering the seniors as they made their way through town.

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