TRI CITY — South Umpqua High School’s senior month started at 5:45 a.m. Saturday and will end when the sun goes down on May 31.

The high school has dedicated an entire month to celebrating the Class of 2021, starting with a senior sunrise celebration and ending with a senior sunset.

“The senior month is supposed to make up for what’s lost this year,” said Dante’ James, student body president for South Umpqua High School.

Instead of recreating past traditions under COVID-19 guidelines, the students came up with new ways to celebrate the senior class.

On Saturday morning, students sat down on the track to watch the sun come up.

The morning celebration also included breakfast, games and photo booths.

James is a graduating senior this year, and said it’s been a little overwhelming, but she’s looking forward to the next chapter in life.

“We’re always on edge. We’re waiting for the next cancellation,” James said. “So when our school told us that we’re able to do all these events and have prom and have senior months, we were all very excited. Because of so many cancellations we haven’t really had the chance to band and say our final goodbyes to one another.”

Community members were also able to adopt graduating seniors through a Facebook group, which was created in February. In March, graduating Riddle seniors were also included in that program.

James said most students had been adopted but there were still a few seniors who had not yet filled out a profile.

Other senior celebrations include the senior slideshow on May 24, scholarship night on May 26 and the seniors’ last day on May 28.

And although it won’t be traditional, there will be a prom for juniors and seniors at the school on May 23. The prom will be held outside on the baseball field.

The senior sunset celebration will start at 5 p.m. May 31.

“We will have a big barbecue,” James said, adding that there will also be a chance to decorate the senior garden and paint rocks. She was also excited about the painted water balloon fight that would take place that evening, with all the seniors being encouraged to wear white while they throw paint-filled water balloons at each other.

The school has a graduating class of more than 80 students and will host graduation at 7:30 p.m. June 4, at the Lancer football field.

Sanne Godfrey can be reached at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4203. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey.

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