High school seniors wrap up unusual final year
Sequoyah High School senior Joah Fourkiller is accompanied by his parents, Ruth and Kevin Fourkiller, on senior night. COURTESY/RANCE FOURKILLER
TAHLEQUAH – Like his fellow Sequoyah High School seniors, Joah Fourkiller spent his final weeks “distance learning” from home with a baseball season cut short and uncertainty looming over an official graduation ceremony.
“At the end of spring break, they made a longer break,” he said. “In the middle of that they said we wouldn’t be going back.”
On March 13, Sequoyah emptied for spring break, but the students never returned. On March 25 as the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise, the Oklahoma Board of Education required school districts to provide distance learning for the remainder of the school year.
“It’s breaking a mama’s heart,” Joah’s mother, Ruth Fourkiller, said. “Especially because I wasn’t ready to let the last season of baseball go. We were having such a good season. They played four games and they were 3-1. Joah was hitting good and having a good season.”
All school activities were cancelled or delayed in March based to the COVID-19 threat. Even though an official graduation ceremony has been postponed, Fourkiller is moving forward with post-high school plans to attend Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology, specifically its lineman program.
“They bumped me up to start this summer, so I’ll be starting school right before we actually have graduation,” he said.
The pandemic prompted cancellation of a planned May 15 graduation ceremony, but another is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. July 31 at the Chota Conference Center, pending Centers for Disease Control guidelines, according to the school. The high school prom is scheduled for July 30.
In the meantime, teachers, administrators and parents are honoring the 90-student class of 2020 in other ways such as a “then and now” photo tribute on Facebook. On May 15, described by SHS as “still a special day,” seniors and families are invited to drive through campus from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. for a mini-celebration.
“Your teachers will be lined up along the road to cheer you on,” a SHS Facebook post states. “The route will end at the statue of Sequoyah where (Principal Jolyn Choate) will be waiting to present something special to each of you.”
SHS staff also sought “maroon letters” to support the graduating class.
“We would like to honor our seniors in a more personal manner because this year has not been a normal year for this amazing group of students,” Choate wrote in a letter. “I am asking my teachers, coaches and sponsors to write a message to all the seniors that they have either in class, in a sport or club/organization. The letter can be a card, a hand-written note or a typed letter. It can be about any memory of that student or a well wish for their future.”
The offer was extended for parents, family members and friends.
“I can’t help but feel that there have been so many disappointments for them in the way that their senior year has ended, that this showing of our care and thoughts for them would brighten some of the dimness they are experiencing,” Choate wrote.
The letters, which were due May 8, will be presented to the seniors May 15. Sequoyah’s Class of 2020
Katelyn Aimerson, Morgan Ballew, Hannah Ballou, Skylar Birdtail, Anissa Budder, Kabrina Bush, Mason Bush, Lanie Catron, Ally Chambers, Boniblu Choate, Jonathon Christie, Kyilee Chumley, Ryleigh Clinton, Ty Cloud, Tanasia Cochran, Zachary Cook, Leah Cozad, Nayela Crittenden, Jerrod Davis, Michael Davis, Samantha Deckard, Devin Doctor, Christian Dry, Athan Duncan, Shaydee Duncan, Brooklynn Eagle, Winter Eubanks, Braydon Fields, Joah Fourkiller, Lana Gass, Landen Girty, Makynna Girty, Colt Green, William Yona Gregory, Brayden Haddock, Shaydia Hallmark, Katie Hallum, Kiana Hamilton, Kayla Handle, Joey Hardbarger, Kayla Harp, Trenton Harris, Kaynaan Henry, Thomas Herrera, Daythan Hitcher, Lexus Holdridge, Payton Holloway, Daryl Hooper, Demi Hooper, Samantha HorseChief, Cody Jeanes, Madilyn Joice, Alexys Keys, Hondo Kirk, Nikki Kirk, Kailey Lasley, Sky Seeing Leading Fox, Jaide Long, Meghan Lucas, Liam McAlpin, Chloe McFarland, Brayden McManus, Michaela Mose, Evelyn Mouse, Laynee Pennington, Mackenzie Philpott, Tyler Purkey, Marlena Roanhorse, Jaeden Robbins, Jakob Rogers, Liliana Rojas, Santos Sanchez, Kyrah Sanders, Nathan Scheu, Makenzie Shell, Breanna Sierra, C-Jay Soap, Tamra Soap, Rylan Stalnaker, Bailey Turman, Chelbie Turtle, Xavier Vann, Mia Vinson, Eliza Walker, Shade Watie, Garret Weir, Solomon Winn, Darsi Woolard, Noah Young and Paige Young.