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A parade of future graduates


May 15, 2020

Amber Nichols

Cloquet High School seniors were met with well-wishers from the school staff Saturday as they picked up graduation gowns and other materials. The raucous event was part of ongoing efforts to bring some specialness, if not normalcy, to the end of the graduates' high school days.

The staff at Cloquet High School made the best of fun in a difficult time Saturday afternoon by holding a senior class drive-thru event for the Class of 2020. The event was a chance for seniors to receive graduation caps and gowns as well as another way to honor a senior class that has been robbed of so many end-of-year traditions.

"Our senior class advisors (Brenda Gigliotti and Shelley Robideaux) came up with the idea," said Cloquet High School Principal Steve Battaglia. "They are well connected with the senior parents, and it just seemed like the students needed some fun."

Senior students were greeted at the entry of the 22nd Street parking lot by a gathering of teachers holding signs, ringing cowbells and applauding them as they drove into the lot. Each student's name was announced over the football field sound system. Once in the lot, the students would drive their vehicles to a table where they were given their caps and gowns. From there, they proceeded past a WKLK sound system, which provided music for the event. They then looped around and through the auxiliary lot, which was filled with cars and trucks decorated by parents and fellow students. Some vehicles had 6-foot-high pictures of students; others had streamers, balloons, flashing lights and air horns. From that lot the seniors drove past more supporters lining the roadway to the north parking lot by the gym, where they were greeted with prizes - which would have been given away during the all-night grad party - and burgers and brats.

"The all-night graduation party committee handled the prizes," Battaglia said. "The school works closely with them regarding facility use for that event, but they do all the work gathering donations and they handled the drawings for the prizes. Cloquet really stepped up" with more than $10,000 in donations and prizes.

Battaglia said just 20 seniors were unable to make the event, meaning that more than 160 students were treated to a special day at a very unusual time.

Amber Nichols


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