CLINTON — “They say it takes a village and ours is truly the best,” is what Clinton resident Kristen Martin wrote on her Facebook page describing the Clinton Central School Class of 2020 pictorial banner tribute earlier this month.
Eighty-nine high school senior smiles could be seen waving in the wind on banners attached to telephone poles as people traveled down College, Utica and Elm streets, as well as Chenango and Kirkland avenues.
“A group of us parents wanted to do something special for these kids,” said Martin, just one of several parents of CCS seniors who contributed to the teenage testimonial. “We all recognize there a lot of things going on now. There are a lot of people who are sick, a lot of people who’ve lost their lives and people who don’t have their jobs. At the same time we have kids who’ve worked for 13 years going to school and creating these friendships. So we wanted to do something to recognize what they’ve accomplished during this very difficult time, not just in our community, but all communities.”
Martin said these kids lost some of the best months of their lives this year.
“They lost graduation,” Martin said. “They also lost their senior sports season. They are kids who lost going to state hockey tournaments and so much other loss.”
“It’s a loss to their parents too,” Martin added. “Some parents this year was their last chance for something like this. So we are trying to our best to show them we love them, support them. and we think they’re special.”
Martin said she worked with some very committed and motivated people and if not for them it never would have happened.
“There’s a group of moms I call my ‘mom club,’” Martin said. “They’re Nina Bremer, Andria Gifford and Lynn Hall. We started a Facebook page so we could connect to all the other parents and started talking about these banners I saw another school did in New Jersey.”
Martin explained she also sent out about 25 text messages to other senior parents telling them what she wanted to do and how much it would cost. “Within two days we raised all the money to purchase all the banners,” she said.
Parents of senior students contributed in addition to someone Martin described as a very kind member of the community.
“She’s a girlfriend of mine and she felt terrible for the kids,” Martin said. “Her name is Deli Rogers.”
The pictures used for the banners are the students senior pictures and Martin said this is where another very special person comes in.
“We contacted the school and told them what we were doing,” Martin explained. “As a result from that we ended up working with CCS art teacher Mindy Pavone. She did the entire layout and graphically designed the banners.”
Martin said in addition to that, Pavone created an Instagram page under the title, clinton2020seniors, where she listed where students are going to college with professionally taken photographs.
Once Martin had everything together Hall got in
touch with a local company on Chenango Ave named Proforma Full Circle, a company the school has used before for soccer banners and other projects. Proforma, as it’s called for short, creates awards and recognition banners and ribbons, branded apparel, such as jerseys and athletic clothing for CCS, Hamilton College and other clients.
Martin said the entire project, soup to nuts, took about two weeks. Once she took delivery of the banners this was the time to call in the dads. A meeting was held with Martin, Gifford and Hall. Plus, Dylan Gifford, Seth Homer, Jason and Nicole Arndt and Rob Emery.
While the group was trying to decide what would be the best way to display the banners they kept coming back to hanging them where the Hockeyville banners were hung. Emery, who works for the Town of Kirkland Highway Department made a call to his boss, Town of Kirkland Highway Superintendent Jon Scott.
“The funny thing is I actually talked to a parent about this about three weeks before I got Rob’s call,” Scott said. “I told that parent if you want to put them in the park, we’ll do it, if you want them on the poles we’ll put them on the poles, if you want us to make stands and put them at the school we’ll do that, whatever you want.”
Scott said after he received Emery’s call he agreed and asked two of his mechanics, Kevin Lloyd and Bernie Peck to fabricate the brackets. Once finished with the brackets Emery and another Highway Department employee, Nate Slawson set out on the “man lift” to install the banners.
“They had all 89 banners installed in a day and a half,” Scott said. “They will be up for two weeks.
Martin said the banners will hang for two weeks at which time each student will be gifted his or her banner as a keepsake.
According to students when they first saw the banners not only were they surprised some said they were actually overwhelmed.
CCS senior Ethan Carr was one of them.
“It was really nice the parents did something themselves for us,” Carr said. “It was nice driving by seeing all my classmates hung up around town -it’s very special after such a crummy end to the year.”
CCS Class of 2020 Valedictorian Wiley Gifford said it was so nice to see everyone together because right now she feels everyone is separated, all alone and apart.
“Knowing the people of the community were doing things to try and bring us all together meant the world to me,” Gifford said. “I haven’t seen some of my classmates in what feels like forever so seeing their pictures around town just reminded me of high school which is super nice.”
Gifford said she and her dad also got involved with making mementos to share with the entire class.
“My family is really into Ultimate Frisbee,” Gifford explained. “So my dad bought white Frisbees and painted Class of 2020 on them with a two-finger peace sign, an image of a Sun and every single graduating senior’s name on the outside of the disc.”
Gifford plans to attend Cornell University in the fall to study science. She said she’ll have a lot of special memories about this time after she leaves for school.
“There were so many other things too,” she said. “The signs being put up on the lawns, our teachers reaching out to us, different parents organizing certain things, that kind of stuff really helped a ton.”