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story.lead_photo.caption Unlike traditional parades — such as the 2019 Fulton Street Fair parade depicted here — Friday's parade honoring Fulton High School seniors won't feature floats, marching bands or thrown candy. Rather, graduating Hornets will drive through downtown Fulton in their vehicles, and spectators are encouraged to maintain social distancing while cheering them on. Photo by Helen Wilbers / Fulton Sun.

They won't be turning their tassels until June, but Fulton's seniors will parade into their futures this Friday.

Fulton High School has arranged a social-distancing-friendly parade through downtown Fulton beginning at 3 p.m. The parade route will follow Court Street from near William Woods University down to Second Street. Spectators are encouraged to remain at least 6 feet apart along the parade route.

"I'm hoping the seniors are going to get a warm feeling of accomplishment," FHS Principal Kati Boland said Wednesday. "I also hope they see how the community is pulling together for them."

She said the idea for the parade came from several sources: Viral posts on Facebook, parents of students at the school and other principals around Missouri. Some schools are even holding parades in lieu of graduation. With FHS still planning a traditional graduation ceremony in mid-June, Boland and other district officials decided to organize a parade for the day on which commencement was originally scheduled.

"We surveyed our families — seniors and their parents — and a majority of them were in favor," Boland said. "It's hard for students to face a lack of closure after 13 years of public education, and we get it."

FHS has been closed since March due to the ongoing pandemic, but classes are wrapping up online this week. Boland expects of approximately 150 graduates, a large majority plan to participate.

The parade won't feature floats or flung candy, just the seniors in their vehicles. The students are welcome to decorate their vehicles and wear their caps and gowns, Boland said. Pickup truck beds will be limited to no more than three occupants.

Jeremy Washington, a Class of 2000 FHS graduate and this year's commencement speaker, will help lead the parade.

A few final details were still in the air as of Wednesday. Boland is also trying to make the school's fight song, "Fulton Boy," available to play over the vehicles' speakers. FHS also hopes to stream the parade over social media.

The plan earned approval from the Fulton City Council and Fulton Police Department.

"They did a parade for the seniors in my subdivision," said Mary Rehklau, of Ward 2, during the May 12 meeting. "I think it's something the kids really love."

The council moved to extend the parade route, ensuring spectators have plenty of room to spread out.

"I think it's fantastic," Mayor Lowe Cannell said. "I hope our community comes out and shows their Hornet pride."

In the addition to the parade, the school will have an in-person ceremony June 19 at the football stadium.

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