A total of 56 banners, like these pictured, were hung on downtown light poles May 29 to honor students graduating from Morgan Hill's high schools in 2020.
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Local nonprofit and public organizations teamed up to honor Morgan Hill’s class of 2020 by displaying banners with all the graduates’ photos throughout the city’s downtown.

Volunteers were busy hanging the banners on Monterey Road the morning of Friday, May 29. A total of 56 banners are now hanging from downtown light poles, said City Council member Larry Carr, who was among the volunteers working Friday morning.

Each banner displays photos of six graduates on the front and back. More than 650 students graduating from Live Oak High, Sobrato High, Central High and Oakwood schools are printed on the banners.

The effort to honor Morgan Hill’s 2020 graduates this way was borne out of a desire to recognize the students in a public setting under Covid-19 health restrictions that have canceled all school events—including live graduation ceremonies—since March. “I have a daughter who is graduating, so I am understanding of what these kids are going through,” Carr said. “They went through 12 years of school and they’re missing prom, senior trip and graduation. So I started thinking about ways we can honor them a little bit.”

A light bulb went off in Carr’s head one day a few weeks ago when he and local sign maker, Doug Stewart, were talking about yard signs that Stewart’s company had been making for this year’s graduates. Carr wondered if Stewart could make banners designed to hang on the downtown light poles that would honor all the graduates.

Carr was later chatting online about the idea with some other community members—including City Council member John McKay and Mario Banuelos—and they encouraged him to get other volunteers involved. He pitched the idea to Rotary Club of Morgan Hill, which “enthusiastically” supported the project.

The Kiwanis Club of Morgan Hill also became involved.

Stewart’s company, Signtech, made the banners.

“The city and its crews went down and trimmed trees to make sure you could see the banners well,” Carr added. “There are times we talk about ‘the Morgan Hill feel’ and that’s what this is—community coming together to honor the graduates in some way we can, under the circumstances.”

Carr’s daughter, Katie, will be graduating from Sobrato in a June 5 virtual ceremony.

Stewart—himself a Live Oak alumnus—said his longtime connection to Morgan Hill made this job particularly pleasing. He noted his daughter graduated from Live Oak last year, and he personally knows many of the students’ whose faces appear on the new downtown banners.

“It was an honor to be involved and partner up with the sponsors and the Rotary Club and get it done,” Stewart said. “Everyone teamed up and got enough resources and sponsorship and got it done.”

Morgan Hill Unified School District’s high school commencement ceremonies will take place next week in online virtual ceremonies. Central High School is scheduled for June 4, and both Sobrato and Live Oak on June 5.

Oakwood School, a private school in south Morgan Hill, has postponed its graduation ceremony to Aug. 1.

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Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.


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