GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - The coronavirus pandemic has forced us to get creative about how we celebrate most everything: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and now graduations.
North Gwinnett High school students were celebrated with a parade Saturday, the same day as the nationwide "Graduate together" program.
"At first I didn’t want to believe it," North Gwinnett senior Kiera Lagi said of her canceled graduation experience.
Most seniors fought through a long stage of denial before getting to this point.
Classes canceled, then prom, eventually senior activities did too.
Thousands across the country had hoped to be back to normal by graduation season.
But the make-shift ceremonies are the new reality.
There was no crowd of seated students and parents, looking up at a podium, listening quietly to class speakers.
Instead, cars decked out in red white and black balloons, gushed confetti as students wore their caps, gowns, cords, and stoles.
North Gwinnett's parade started at 3 p.m. at the Buffalo Wild wings on Peachtree Industrial and ended at the school that became a second home for seniors.
Students and parents said this wasn’t the graduation they expected, but the cheers and waves from sidewalks certainly brought smiles to their faces during an uncertain time.
"It kind of made me feel like I have a little bit of hope," Lagi said.
She'll attend the University of West Georgia in the fall with hopes of becoming an elementary school teacher someday.
Until then, the class of 2020 reflects on an unbelievable end of a chapter, and an unexpected start of another.