graduate hat and certificated in the garden

School hasn’t been the same since COVID-19, but a group of Anthem moms are working hard to ensure more than 400 high school seniors don’t miss out on celebrating their achievements.

The parents are bringing back the senior parade. It starts at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, at the Church of Latter-day Saints in Daisy Mountain. Anyone is welcome, and encouraged, to support the students. 

“I’m really thankful we get to have a parade and that our community is doing this for us,” said Ember Foxx, a Caurus Academy senior. 

“It’s been really difficult, and I do get emotional about it sometimes because in the movies you see kids hanging out with friends or going out. We didn’t really get to do that.”

Nationwide, schools were forced to cancel prom, graduation and other senior events for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Parents of high school students were determined to give them a way of celebrating. 

Boulder Creek High School initially pushed back graduation last year, but, as COVID-19 continued to worsen, it canceled the event. Stephanie McLean, the mother of a class of 2020 Boulder Creek High School student, and three other parents rushed to action. 

“Within a week’s notice, we were able to throw a full graduation for the kids,” McLean said. “We rented a stage, videographer, sound equipment, lights, chairs and we took over the graduation that would have been at the stadium. We worked really hard and were able to host it for them in a parking lot.”

Thanks to those parents, more than 120 students in the class of 2020 decorated their cars and drove through Anthem. The streets were lined with friends, family and neighbors cheering for them and their success.

While last year’s senior class lost their prom and graduation, this year’s senior class lost the whole year, according to Stacee Foxx, Ember’s mother. 

Stacee attended the parade last year to cheer on her friends and neighbors. This year, with her daughter graduating, she wanted to host it again.

“Their entire senior year was not how it should have been,” Stacee said. “I think to have something like this is really special, it gives them a moment.”

Without that moment of recognition, Ember said it’s hard to move on.

“To be honest, I’m not really ready to graduate,” Ember said. “My senior year went by a little too fast. Most of it was through a computer. It’s really weird to think that we’re graduating now. Everyone keeps saying, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re graduating. It’s over,’ but it doesn’t feel like it. It’s hard to feel like I’m graduating.”

Ember said schools are trying their best to provide opportunities for students. Some schools are offering a modified in-person graduation ceremony, others are attempting to have a socially distanced prom. 

However, Ember said most students won’t attend because “it’s just not the same.” For many seniors, their only recognition will come from these parent-organized events.

McLean said she is glad the community is continuing with the parade. Seniors will head off in different directions, with some leaving Anthem for good. 

“Not everyone goes off to college and gets a big scholarship with a sendoff,” McLean said. “There are kids going off to the workforce, going to the military, kind of starting their career. I think it’s nice to celebrate an ending to their Anthem childhood.”

Stacee acknowledged this as well and said, unlike last year, the parade will not be limited to a specific school. She wants every student recognized who has a tie to Anthem. She is expecting around 400 seniors from the community to participate on May 8.

“I want all the kids every year, regardless of what’s going on in the world, to get to celebrate,” Stacee said. “These kids work so hard for so many years and graduating high school is such a big moment. It’s something to be celebrated by everybody.

“I feel like that’s what Anthem is about, celebrating each other and each other’s victories as a community.”