Schools finding ways to make sure graduating seniors feel loved

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As the end of the school year nears, reality is setting in for many.

For graduating seniors, distance learning means they won't be back inside their school buildings, go to prom or have a traditional commencement ceremony. However, districts around the state are working to make sure their seniors know they're loved.

In the small northwestern Minnesota community of Goodridge, senior pictures in caps and gowns is a tradition so the district found a way to make it happen.

"We set up times for them to pick a time slot and scheduled a photographer and they came into the building one at a time and were able to take pictures around the school," said Tom Loberg, superintendent of Goodridge Public Schools.

The photographer then took it one step further.

"They had a bunch of chairs set up and we stood in each of our spots and she took a picture of us individually and then merged them together, which I thought was really cool," said Jordynn Johnsrud, a senior at the school.

It's as if they were all there together.

"It was such a special moment and it provided some relief in a very difficult time," Loberg added.

In larger cities like Wayzata and Spring Lake Park, districts are honoring students through a senior spotlight on social media, and in Buffalo, yard signs have been made for families.

"We miss them so much and we are so proud of them," said Becky Carlson, principal at Goodridge Public Schools.

Next week in Goodridge, banners with senior portraits will be hung up on light poles around town.

"We always have a great senior class but this class is phenomenal," Carlson added, "so the fact that we didn't get to spend our last two months celebrating with them was really hard for everybody."

The small gestures seem to be making a big difference.

"It's important to me because we don't know if we will get that recognition in a traditional big ceremony, so I think it is important, at least right now, to show some recognition to seniors," said Johnsrud.

And during this tough time, it's making them know they're loved.