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Abby, Colby seniors receive unique honor

Abby, Colby seniors receive unique honor Abby, Colby seniors receive unique honor

As you drive along Hwy. 13 it’s hard not to notice the banners that have sprung up in Colby and Abbotsford. They began to make their first appearance at the end of May, and they will remain hanging through July.

You’ll no doubt recognize many of the faces as you drive through both cities as each banner bears the image of a senior from Abbotsford or Colby High.

With the COVID-19 pandemic stealing so much of this year’s senior year at Colby and Abbotsford High, members of each community came up with a plan to celebrate their senior students and their many accomplishments.

Shirley Gebert was one of the driving forces behind the banner for Colby, and her hope is the banners are a sign of love towards the Class of 2020.

“The Class of 2020 is living through history with the world shutting down due to the spread of COVID-19,” Gebert said. “I thought about all of the milestones that the Class of 2020 was going to miss out on for their senior year – that last walk down the hall as seniors, ‘Senior Week’ each saying good-bye in their own way to their teachers, their classmates and their student career. I wanted to do something to show them great love and community support.”

Parents and teachers from Abbotsford were of the same mind as Gebert, and both parties brainstormed ideas.

“The Class of 2020 didn’t get to finish their high school careers the way they imagined,” Abby High principal Ryan Bargender said. “We wanted them to know that the work they put in during their school careers did not go unnoticed. We wanted to honor them the best we could since they were not able to have their traditional send-off.”

After examining options, both communities chose to go with banners. In the case of Abbotsford, a double sided banner was placed on each light pole. For Colby, that was not an option, so the next best route was to affix them to the fence that runs adjacent to the Colby High football field.

With the help of donations from parents, teachers and local businesses, money was quickly raised to get the project started. Mike Jakel of Maximum Autosports & Signs in Abbotsford was contacted to create the over 100 banners needed.

Putting up the banners was the easy part, says Jakel. The hard part was getting a high quality shot of each senior.

“In Abbotsford the picture on those banners are small enough to where the pictures they provided all worked from a resolution standpoin,” Jakel said. “But once we got to Colby, being that theirs are 4 x 5 feet, not all the pictures enlarged at a good enough quality.”

Professional photographers who took pictures sent their work in to Jakel. With the help of Gebert, parents and seniors Manny Hoppe and Tyler Klement, special arrangements were made for those who did not have professional-grade photos. Jakel used his own camera to take photos, and he was able to check more names off the list until he had each and every senior accounted for.

Each senior, upon completing their graduation ceremony, will be given their banner to keep. It will serve as a reminder of the things they’ve given up, as well as a lesson about life and the of hard work it takes to make something happen, says Jakel.

“I feel awful that this year’s seniors had to go through this, but they’ve learned a valuable lesson, that life sometimes isn’t fair,” he said. “But it’s also nice to be able to do something special for a good group of kids.”

Now, whenever someone drives down Hwy. 13, they are greeted by the friendly faces of the Class of 2020. It’s a sight that has already filled many a parent and teacher with joy.

“As I drive by and see the banners each day, I see young men and women who are survivors with great opportunity ahead of them,” Gebert says. “It gives me great pride to see their bright, smiling faces.

“It also gives me great hope and so much gratitude to think about all of the businesses and community members who came together and donated so generously to help make this fence of honor possible. I believe these young men and women have been forged in fire and are destined to be the answers to solve great struggles in the world.”

FLY HIGH -Dalton Feddick’s banner greets drivers on Hwy. 13. A banner for each Abbotsford senior adorns the light poles in the city.