Communities come together for 'Senior Cruise'
Class of 2020 graduates to be honored by parents
OSCEOLA, MECOSTA -- Parents of graduating seniors are feeling the disappointment of not having the traditional graduation ceremony in May, so two local mothers decided to do something different to honor graduates.
Ralynn Sims and Shannon Kelly put their heads together and came up the idea of having a "Senior Cruise" to honor all graduating seniors from Reed City, Big Rapids, Big Rapids Virtual and Morley Stanwood high schools, and Crossroads Charter Academy.
"My daughter, Autumn, who has Down Syndrome, has gone to public schools her whole life," Sims said. "When we told her she would not be walking across the stage at graduation this year, she broke down and cried. It really affected her.
"I decided it would be good to have senior signs posted down Chestnut Street to congratulate all the seniors, and to thank them for accepting Autumn, and making her a part of the student activities," she continued. "She has never been excluded, and I thought this would be a good way to thank them for all their support for the special needs students in the school."
Kelly said, after speaking with Sims, she thought it would be cool if they could have the signs go all the way from Reed City to Morley Stanwood High School, so she started talking to other senior parents.
So, she started talking to other senior parents.
"I coordinated with a friend, who has a senior at Morley Stanwood. He helped me get a hold of some other people. We made some connections and got the idea out there," Kelly said.
"Originally, the idea was just for the signs to be put out so people could see them," Sims said. "Shannon got the other schools on board to do the same thing. It turned out to be bigger than expected, and from there, it became the cruise. We didn't expect it to explode the way it did."
The cruise is scheduled to start at 5 p.m., Friday, May 15. It will begin north of Reed City, travel down Chestnut Street, and continue down old 131/Northland Drive until it reaches Morley Stanwood High School.
At that point, participants will turn around in the school parking lot and go their separate ways.
"Participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicles to represent their school, in order to distinguish the different graduates," Sims said. "Radio station 103.9 has agreed to announce the names of the graduates on air as they pass through each town..
"There will be absolutely no getting out of the vehicles during the cruise," she added. "And we are not encouraging spectators along the route because of the social distancing recommendations in effect. It is important to just have fun with it."
Kelly said, Megan Erickson with Meceola Dispatch Center is helping to coordinate with police for traffic control during the cruise.
"The Osceola County sheriff's department has offered to provide three officers for the event, and the Michigan State Police said they would provide two officers," Kelly said. "We are hoping to get the city police involved, as well."
Kelly said she hopes to have an officer at the front of the line of cars, leading the procession, and an officer at the end of the line, following the procession.
They are hoping to get officers at the intersection of 19 Mile Road and Old State Street as well, in case participants want to join in or drop out at one of those spots, she said, but that has not been worked out yet.
According to Sims, Reed City Police and Fire Departments have agreed to provide an escort for the vehicles through Reed City, and the Osceola County Sheriff's department will escort them to the county line, where another department take over.
"We would like to have a police escort all the way from Reed City to Morley Stanwood High School," Sims said. "They won't be shutting any roads down, so we will have to abide by all traffic rules during the cruise."
Sims said the details are still being worked out, and updates will be posted on the Let's Talk Reed City Facebook page.
Sims and Kelly both emphasized that the cruise is not intended to take the place of any plans being put in place by the separate school districts with respect to delayed graduation ceremonies or virtual recognition of graduates.