REARDAN, Wash. – Motorists driving through the heart of town will notice the smiling faces of this year’s graduating class of high school seniors.
Each of the 42 senior portraits from Reardan High School are displayed on banners affixed to light poles along the south side of U.S. Highway 2.
Parents started the tradition in 2020 as a way to honor the graduating seniors who missed out on celebrations that year because of the pandemic.
The display was so well-received, they decided to continue every year, said senior class advisor Andrea McLaughlin, who is now in charge of the program.
“I love it,” senior Elizabeth Bell said. “They make it look really nice.”
The banners stay up for a few weeks around graduation. It’s fun for families coming to town to spot their senior’s picture.
“We get a lot of compliments on it,” Principal JoLynn Ray said.
Students or their parents pay for their banner to cover the cost, then they get to keep it.
Bell said her mom will probably hang the life-size photo in her room when she leaves to study nursing at Washington State University this fall.
“They are much bigger in person,” McLaughlin said. “They don’t look that big up there, but they are huge.”
The night before graduation, the seniors ride in the back of a trailer in a parade around town – another event that started during the pandemic.
“There were some traditions that came out of COVID that stuck,” McLaughlin said. “For as much as it (hurt students), it did gives us some good things that we keep doing.”