The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted countless school activities nationwide, not the least of which are commencement ceremonies for graduating high school seniors.
With many members of the Class of 2020 missing one of life’s milestones, state Rep. Lyndon Yearick suggested lighting the capitol’s cupola to symbolically congratulate Delaware graduates.
The Division of Research, which manages Legislative Hall’s physical facility, was approached about the idea.
“We worked with the Division of Facilities Management to develop a plan for lighting the cupola in the school colors of about 58 different high schools over a two-week period,” said Division of Research Director Mark Cutrona. “We then approached Speaker [Pete] Schwartzkopf and President Pro Tempore [David] McBride, who were enthusiastically supportive. Legislative Hall’s cupola is a Delaware landmark. Its computer-controlled LED lighting can be programmed to display a wide array of colors and patterns and is used dozens of times throughout the year to promote causes.”
Over nine weekdays, the cupola will display a different combination of school colors each night. Displays began with blue and white May 18, variations of which are shared by 12 different Delaware high schools, and will conclude with blue and gold, and blue and orange May 29.
On May 21, the cupola was lit in purple and blue, and purple and white for Sussex Academy. On May 26, it will be illuminated in green, white and gold for Indian River High School. On May 28, it will be bathed in gold and white for Sussex Tech, and on May 29 it will shine blue and gold for Cape High and Sussex Central.
In addition to Yearick, members of the General Assembly’s other three caucuses commented on the combined effort to honor graduates: "Congratulations to the Class of 2020 on their graduation,” said state Rep. Kim Williams. “Your achievements have not gone unnoticed, and while there cannot be in-person ceremonies, we wanted to commemorate your graduation in a memorable way. This is one small way the General Assembly can honor your accomplishments. I and all my colleagues are very proud of you all and we look forward to watching your achievements to come."
“High school graduation is one of the most important moments for our students and their families,” said Senate President Pro Tempore David McBride. “We have all had to make sacrifices during this pandemic, and I know this is one of the most painful for the young men and women who have worked so hard to reach this point. This effort is just one of the many ways our state is pulling together to support you and celebrate your success. Congratulations, Class of 2020!”
"Delaware's high school seniors are going through an unprecedented time, including the loss of some special landmark events in their school careers," said Senate Minority Whip Cathy Cloutier. "After all that they've put into their education, we are pleased to provide this tribute to recognize these future leaders."
Additionally, when lawmakers return to work next month, a bipartisan House Concurrent Resolution will be passed congratulating the members of the High School Class of 2020 and recognizing them “as pioneers of new social norms and practitioners of strength during these uncertain times.”