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Photography by Carly May

There were masks, but there was also DJ music, tears, balloons and smiles. Hillcrest High School’s virtual graduation is May 30 due to the coronavirus, but neighbors, including Lisa Smith and Cori Prager, organized a senior appreciation Saturday, May 23. Neighbors adopted 240 Class of 2020 Hillcrest High School seniors. The students lined up in their cars and drove through the Franklin Stadium while teachers, administrators and neighbors gifted them with care packages ranging from $100 to $200. The Hillcrest High School Parent Teacher Student Association, neighbors, HHS families, alumni, Gateway Church, Rain or Shine ConfettE, Joy Neville of Neville Wedding Stories, Precision Productions Group, Hillcrest High School Community Foundation, Dave Fechtman, PB&J, Wrapsody, Paper Affair and DJ Roger Haze contributed to the event.

“Knowing that those kids were leaving their school forever and listening to them be so excited about prom and other things and knowing that none of that was going to happen, I knew we had to do something,” Smith says. “All of these kids are doing their best to figure out how to maneuver the world. I was hoping this was going to be an event where the students realized, ‘I’m not a high school kid anymore. This is what I was doing, but next is going to be better.’ I felt like these are all my kids.”

Senior Rubi Sarinana decorated her mortar board dedicated to her father, who died a year ago. “I plan to go to college and show my Pops that I did it,” she said.

About 95% of Hillcrest High School’s seniors have been accepted to a college and earned about $2.8 million worth of scholarships.

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