NORTHERN RHODE ISLAND – School officials in two neighboring towns made efforts to acknowledge – and surprise – members of the Class of 2020 this week, with signs appearing on the lawns of every member of this year’s crop of graduates.

In North Smithfield, signs with the words, “Senior Strong,” and “We love you,” showed up on the lawns of all 123 seniors last Friday night.

The initiative began thanks to a joint effort by Kate Dubois, the parent of one member of the North Smithfield High School graduating class, and 2020 class adviser Rob Skinner, who worked with parents along with several members of staff and administration.

The signs were produced by North Smithfield-based National Marker Corporation and provided to the group at a discount.

“Michael Black, CEO of the company, who also heads our athletic booster organization, the North Smithfield Athletic Association, produced them at substantially lower cost as a good will gesture to our seniors,” said Principal Timothy McGee.

Dubois and NSHS guidance director William Pepin laid out a plan to deliver the gifts under the cover of darkness.

“The purpose of the secret delivery is to let each senior know how special and valued they are,” said McGee, pointing out that many class events have been canceled or modified.

“What should have been one of the most memorable spring seasons in their lives certainly has been, but for the wrong reason,” McGee said. “With students being separated for such a long period of time, we felt this would be a reminder that our entire community is thinking of them and is very proud of their accomplishments.”

In Burrillville, signs produced by East Coast Artisans landed on the lawns of all 176 graduating seniors on Thursday, April 30.

“We love our senior class of 2020, from the staff of BHS,” the blue and white markers noted.

“Our BHS administrative team had the idea and thought it would be a great way to show support to our seniors and their families,” said Supt. Michael Sollitto.

A few school committee members joined the group to show support.

“The staff met at the school parking lot and they were assigned a group of students and then each ‘team’ drove to their houses and put them in the ground,” said Burrillville School Committee member Terri Lacey.

The kind efforts in both towns did not go unnoticed by parents.

“I greatly appreciate the work of all the people behind the making of and the distribution of the ‘Senior Signs’ for the class of 2020,” said North Smithfield School Committee member William Connell, who is also a parent of one of this year’s graduates. “Both producing the signs and then getting them to the homes of all the seniors, at night, no less, entailed a lot of effort by many volunteers. As a parent I want to thank everyone involved.”

Connell said the School Committee is working on more ways to acknowledge this year’s graduates.

“We are committed to doing as many senior events as possible, within the governor’s executive orders,” Connell said.

“This was our way of letting them know we feel for them,” said McGee. “The signs are a way of letting our entire community participate in a show of support for these wonderful students.”

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