JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Local area high school seniors from the class of 2020 were honored by Joint Base Lewis-McChord during a Senior Send-Off event June 25 at Watkins Field.
Due to restrictions placed on schools during the coronavirus pandemic, all spring events were canceled, to include: sports, prom, elementary school walks and -- perhaps most significant -- in-person graduation ceremonies with friends and family.
The idea for a recognition ceremony came from a neighbor of Victoria Duncan, wife of garrison commander, Col. Skye Duncan.
“My neighbor approached me with the idea of having an event for our seniors, then texting ensued with my husband,” Duncan said.
Although the Duncans don’t have a senior student of their own, they said they wanted to honor the class of 2020 with an event because of the adversity graduating military kids have faced during the worldwide pandemic.
“I think it’s safe to say we’ve all faced adversity in 2020 but our seniors have faced challenging conditions all of their lives,” Colonel Duncan said.
The Duncans enlisted the help of the Spouses Club of Lewis-McChord and the Directorate of Personnel and Family Readiness to provide an event that recognized the perseverance and resiliency of JBLM seniors.
The JBLM community came together with an event that featured Strykers from 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, America’s First Corps rock band, the USO canteen, a BBQ food truck, and a flyover from the 4th Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment’s “Night Stalkers.”
“My favorite part of the event was the rock band,” said Jordan Moldenhauer, a graduating senior from Timberline High School.
Each senior was recognized on stage with a reading of their biography and given a Sasquatch graduate sticker and a candy lei.
“I think it is super awesome and sweet that they acknowledged the seniors, even though they didn’t have to,” said Isabella Holloway, a graduating senior from Emerald Ridge High School.
Many schools hosted a modified graduation event. Some ceremonies were virtual, some included family only and some took the form of a parade.
“We didn’t want to take anything from the schools, but we wanted a way to honor our military families,” said Melissa Fowler, president of the Spouses Club of Lewis-McChord. “We are so thankful we were able to support this event.”
For photos of the event, click here.
The video can be viewed here.