Coming Thursday, May 30, Klamath Basin high school seniors will don their caps and gowns and stroll down Main Street to the cheers of onlookers, families and friends.
It marks the fourth annual Graduation Sensation, initiated by the Klamath Promise group, which aims at growing graduation rates and improving school attendance.
About 450 seniors will begin the parade about 11:30 a.m. Three high school marching bands — Mazama, Henley and Klamath Union — will accompany them.
Then it’s onto Veterans Park where Klamath Promise will hand out $38,950 in scholarships. That’s up from $20,000 the first year of the event.
Scholarships were donated by local businesses and private citizens who believe in these seniors and want to see them advance past high school
Scholarships will range from $500 to $1,000. The money can be put toward additional post-high school training, certificate programs, community college expenses, four-year college costs, military training or other workforce training.
About 70% of the eligible students county-wide in both the public and private schools have applied for a scholarship online, the Klamath Promise committee reports.
The Veterans Park event starts about 12:30 p.m. and the public is welcome to attend.
Klamath County Commissioner Derrek DeGroot will give a short talk; Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall will help hand out water, cupcakes and carrots to the grads, as will numerous volunteers from community organizations and schools.
Cooper Roberts, of Roberts Sound Consulting LLC, is a KU senior this year with his own successful sound business. He’s donating his equipment, services and an employee’s time for the second time this year.
Ray Holliday of Holliday Jewelry will be handing out the scholarships. Last year, Holliday noted, Klamath Promise gave out $1,000 a minute in scholarships. This year will likely be the same, with nearly $40,000 being handed out in 40 minutes.
Prior to the event, some graduates will participate in Grad Walks through elementary schools in the morning before the parade and party: KU students will visit all Klamath Falls City Schools and Lost River grads will visit Merrill and Malin.
A school year “bookend” event that pairs with Graduation Sensation, is the Graduation Motivation at the start of the school year for newly minted seniors. This event is planned for Sept. 26 at the Ross Ragland Theater. It features a motivational speaker and other talks for the seniors to encourage them to stay in school and graduate. It, too, is promoted by Klamath Promise.