By Lisa Pemberton
Puyallup Tribal News Editor
They lined up along the powwow grounds at Chief Leschi Schools, surrounded by balloons, streamers and signs with messages such as “Class of 2020” and “Straight outta quarantine.”
And when the high school seniors’ family members and community members began to drive by, things got pretty noisy. There were air horns, car horns, music and hand drums – and about 45 minutes of whooping and hollering from family members, community members and Chief Leschi staff.
“It’s a fun day,” said interim Superintendent Marc Brouillet. “For a lot of them, today was the first chance for them to see people outside their family for almost six weeks.”
Tribal Council teamed up with Chief Leschi Schools to host a social distance parade for the Class of 2020 on May 23. Many of the seniors have continued to work hard on their academics even though their school went to an online-only in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brouillet said.
There are 36 Chief Leschi seniors on track to graduate; the school has tentatively scheduled graduation for Aug. 15.
“It’s been great to see them persevere through this,” Brouillet said.
The event was a way to celebrate soon-to-be grads while also practicing social distancing which helps stop the spread of COVID-19. Members of the Daffodil Festival royal court, powwow royalty, the Puyallup Tribal Veterans and Tribal Council candidates also participated in the event.
“We’re resilient people,” said Tribal Council Chairman David Z. Bean. “We’re finding ways to gather safely and responsibly.”
The parade included tribal seniors from other schools, too. After everyone drove past them, the seniors hopped into their vehicles and led a festive parade around the school grounds and then through the reservation.
“These kids worked hard for their accomplishments and this paid off to show them how proud we are of them,” said Tribal Council member Sylvia Miller, who was one of the event’s organizers. “Many thanks to everyone who came out and participated. We loved it.”