A long line of vehicles are lined up as graduates wait to receive their caps and gowns Friday just before lunchtime.
A long line of vehicles are lined up as graduates wait to receive their caps and gowns Friday just before lunchtime.

   When seniors pulled up to Ripon High School today (Friday) for one of the final times of their school career, they received more than just their graduation caps and gowns in preparation for last week Saturday’s ceremony.

   Enclosed was a little note and an envelope.

   “You have weathered this storm. You are a survivor. Be proud of your accomplishments and do not dwell on the disappointment or fear that you might not get to walk across that stage at the end of the year ... We wanted to give a small gift for your accomplishments and let you know we are proud of you!”

   Inside the envelope?

   Ripon Area Chamber of Commerce Bucks in the amount of $20.

   For graduates perhaps bummed that they can’t enjoy a traditional graduation ceremony amid a pandemic, the dollars were meant to be a little pick-me-up, an opportunity to show them Ripon cares.

   Numerous organizations stepped forward to make the gift happen: Ripon Early Bird Kiwanis, Ripon Noon Kiwanis, the Ripon American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, VFW Post 5278, Ripon Lions and Lioness, Ripon Rotary and the Ripon Area Chamber of Commerce.

    The idea originated with Joan Karsten of Early Bird Kiwanis — though she was quick to push some of the credit to the rest of her group.

   “It was my idea but Ripon Early Birds gets the credit for the original idea and reached out to the other service clubs which they all gladly contributed,” she said. “I think we all remembered what an important milestone this was for all of us, graduation from high school, and we just wanted the seniors to know we are thinking of them as they are not able to graduate and celebrate as they were expecting.”

   Some of those who supported the project even had connections to this year’s senior class ...

Read the full story in the May 28, 2020 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.