Seniors won't have a graduation ceremony, so this South Carolina town put up their portraits along Main Street

By Paul P. Murphy, CNN

    (CNN) -- There won't be a graduation because of Covid-19, but Walhalla, South Carolina, is making sure its high school seniors are still being celebrated.

Walhalla brands itself as the "Main Street the Mountains." But driving down its actual Main Street, there's something else that jumps out.

Portraits of each member of the Class of 2020, on 257 lamppost banners, now line the town's main thoroughfare.

It all began when a light bulb went off in Dwight Addis and Stacy Chapman's heads after seeing a friend's photo. Addis said the town had put people's photos on lamppost banners before.

"These seniors are missing out on the greatest half-year of their high school career," Addis told CNN. "So (we thought), let's do something."

They made a beeline for Diamond T Promotional Gear, about 20 minutes southwest in Fair Play; if they could get the senior portraits -- they needed the permission of the photographer and the students' parents -- they could make them into 2-by-3-foot banners.

But they also needed to pay for the 257 banners -- 245 for the Walhalla High School seniors and 12 from Faith Christian Academy. So the duo, who are on the committee for the town's annual Oktoberfest, started fundraising.

"We thought (the Oktoberfest committee was) going to have to pay for some of this," Addis said, but "within a week we had enough money to purchase all these."

That's all thanks to donations from businesses and locals across Walhalla.

Addis said they know what the seniors are missing out on, "so here's a little thing to say, 'We didn't forget you.'"

Their effort came to fruition when the banners were put up May 2.

Addis said once the banners are taken down, the plan is to give them to the students' families.

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