With much urging from local citizens to come up with a way for the community to honor graduating seniors like other towns across Oklahoma, Durant’s Main Street organization has combined with the Durant Area Chamber of Commerce to plan their own unique recognition.
It was also be a semi “reopening” for community businesses after Gov. Kevin Stitt officially adopted President Trump’s Phase One plan last week.
While 2020 seniors are still waiting to learn if they will have formal graduation ceremonies, they will be honored with a Senior Recognition Display in downtown beginning the evening of May 1, which are expected to hang in business storefronts for a few weeks until what would have been their actual graduation dates.
“Quite a few citizens had reached out to us and the chamber to see if we might could do something similar to other small towns had with the senior’s pictures on lamp posts, etc.,” Durant Main Street Director Stephanie Gardner commented. “We obviously don’t have enough light poles in the downtown area for all the seniors, so we worked to come up with this idea after talking through this extensively for a while. Give credit to the citizens. They said, ‘Hey, we want to see something else done for these kids’. The mayor and city manager got involved as well, so there have been a lot of different people involved.
“Senior photos will be displayed in business windows, which people can see as they shop around downtown or if they feel like staying in their vehicles can drive by and see. They had to submit to an online portal and Price’s Printing is donating the printed framed photos to hang in the store windows. It’s a huge undertaking and we really appreciate them. Hopefully this will give the seniors a little love in this difficult time.”
In addition to the formal opening of the display, most downtown businesses are scheduled to be open from 5-8 p.m. (some for the first time in more than a month) for local residents to shop for graduation gifts, treats, balloons or whatever else they may like. Downtown restaurants are also expected to have inside dining options available that evening while continuing to maintain social-distancing guidelines.
Gardner also stated that live music will be provided, and they have a cookie and balloon company coming in along with local vendors.
“From a downtown perspective, we hope to bring people downtown for their shopping, graduation gifts and things for sort of a reopening,” she said. “By May 1, the majority of our downtown businesses will be back open in some capacity while still following required social-distancing guidelines. I know there are some mixed opinions on that, but people that do not feel comfortable can stay in their cars. There will be places to shop and go in to eat if they want.
“We are anticipating a high volume of senior photos from Durant, Southeastern and all the county schools. We are expecting around 1,000, so plan to divide areas of downtown up by school and will sort and display by the school they are from. We are planning to post a graphic online by May 1 so people can know close to where their school’s seniors are displayed.”
Senior photos will be displayed in Main Street business windows between First and Fourth Street, as well as a few of the business windows on Second and Third Street north of Main.