Spanish River High School surprises seniors with signs

Boca Raton school recognizes outgoing students
Posted at 7:25 AM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 09:50:50-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — As the end of the school year draws closer, some area high schools are looking for new ways to honor their seniors who won’t have a traditional sendoff.

The leadership at Spanish River High School in Boca Raton wanted to make sure seniors felt recognized and appreciated.

First-year principal and Spanish River graduate herself Allison Castellano was inspired after seeing Wellington High School deliver signs to seniors, knowing the two schools were similar in size. She wanted to recognize the students’ hard work while also giving everyone a little sense of shark pride.

She brought up the idea during a virtual staff meeting, and immediately had dozens of volunteers willing to take part in the senior surprise.

The school’s PTSA played a large role in funding the project. On Saturday, administrators, teachers, coaches and other volunteers came together and spent hours delivering more than 600 signs to the front lawns of every graduating senior.

They decorated their cars and headed out on their way with masks and gloves, honking their horns as they pulled up at the students’ homes.

"We wanted to make sure our seniors felt honored and still felt connected to the school. Our teachers love our students, our students love our teachers so to see someone they knew or recognized from school I think brightened their day a little bit.” Castellano said. “It was definitely the best day I’ve had since all of this started, for sure."

Senior Amanda Cairo said she was surprised to see her assistant principal at her door on a Saturday morning.

“It just meant a lot that they were still thinking of us with everything going on, so I’ll definitely keep it,” Cairo said.

Cairo plans to attend Florida Atlantic University next year. While she was disappointed about missing out on prom and graduation, she is keeping a positive attitude.

”It’s kind of hard when you know there's nothing you can do about it. It’s upsetting, but there’s worse stuff that could happen,” said Cairo, whose father is also a Spanish River High School graduate.

Castellano said the students all had different reactions, but some of the highlights came after the deliveries happened.

"The best part, even if it was just from your balcony or from your windows, seeing someone you recognize from school because a lot of them have missed that social interaction,” Castellano said. “The best part were the emails that I received from the parents and even from students thanking me. I delivered the top 20 myself, it took me about four hours with my husband and best friend.”

The sudden shake up in the school year because of COVID-19 was a disappointment for Castellano as well, who was looking forward to delivering her first graduation speech at the same school she graduated from.

“It’s definitely going be a lot different with regards to me kinda living my dream and standing on that stage and delivering the speech to students sitting in a chair I once sat in, but ya know we have to embrace the change and roll with it and that’s one of the things we teach our students is having that resilience and knowing there are brighter days ahead,” Castellano said. “It’s definitely difficult but I’m still excited for what we have planned and we definitely will get together at some point to acknowledge their work and it’s not going to go down quite how I wanted it to, but regardless I’m still sitting in this chair and I’m still excited to be leading this amazing school community at this time. "

Palm Beach County virtual graduations run from May 26 to June 5.