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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Our town has so much spirit’: Medical Lake High School seniors get drive-through celebration

UPDATED: Fri., May 1, 2020

Dozens of cars packed full of Medical Lake High School families drove through the campus’s bus-loading area Friday evening to wave to teachers and celebrate the 120 graduating seniors who hadn’t gathered since mid-March.

“I’m glad I’m wearing sunglasses because I definitely got teary-eyed and wasn’t expecting it,” said Rachel Backstrom, an English teacher for juniors and seniors.

With prom and other senior activities canceled and graduation ceremonies in doubt, principal Chris Spring said the school wanted to do something special to honor seniors. A number of donors stepped up to make the festivities bigger than imagined.

Senior portraits for each of the soon-to-be graduates hung on the fences of the bus-loading area as pop music – including “We’re All in This Together” from the Disney movie “High School Musical” – blasted over speakers.

The seniors waved while standing in truck beds, poking their heads from moon roofs and hanging out windows.

“This is just crazy,” said senior Tori John, the school’s student government president. “It’s cool to see the whole community come together for us.”

John said the celebration, although not a replacement for what seniors have missed out on this year, was “definitely a blessing in disguise.”

“I’m so happy this happened,” John said.

Most of the school’s 54 faculty lined the loading area as well, waving as numerous cars drove by and honked.

“It makes my heart happy,” said Spring’s secretary, Lynae Evans, who jumped and waved from her tippy-toes. “There’s really no words.”

Head cheer coach Darcy Stockton, who along with two other staff members shook pompoms at passing seniors, said it was uplifting to celebrate the seniors after going so long without seeing them.

“Our town has so much spirit,” Evans said.

One of the people who donated for the celebration was Bob Kibling, a 20-year Air Force veteran whose three children graduated from the high school after he retired from Fairchild Air Force Base.

Kibling – who said he donated his entire $1,200 stimulus check and then some to cover the cost of the posters – was the first to wave to each senior from his minivan at the front of the bus-loading area.

“I felt like the kids were kind of getting cheated,” said Kibling, who has been involved with many school activities over the years. “I thought it was a good idea for these kids to be honored in some way.”

Spring said the drive-through celebration with the portraits of seniors came after scouring the internet for ideas. But the final product was something no one had seen before.

“This is us kicking COVID in the face,” Spring said. “I see a lot of kids smiling and that was our goal today.”

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