Main Street and Guthrie Drive in Vernon, the sections of town displaying most of the 227 “We Rise!” signs honoring local graduates, has temporarily been renamed “2020 Senior Drive.”
The new street signs with this temporary name are in blue and gold, the colors of the Vernon Township School District.
Each “We Rise!” sign includes the name and photo of a member of the Class of 2020. Mayor Howard Burrell called the signs “a beautiful, dignified, personal, emotional, and fitting tribute to our high school seniors. And from my perspective, they represent an ‘in-your-face’ act of defiance to this coronavirus. It shows this coronavirus the real meaning of Vernon Cares and Vernon Strong.”
He lauded the work of “three dedicated Vernon citizens - - Ms. Kelly Mitchell, Ms. Dawn DiMartino, and Ms. Justine Van Blarcom. As I understand, Ms. DiMartino designed and did the art work for the signs; Ms. Van Blarcom proofed all the signs for accuracy; Ms. Mitchell paid for all 227 of the signs out of her personal funds; and the three of them spent a significant portion of Wednesday (May 13) putting up the signs.”
Burrell said he was proud of the responsible behavior of Vernon residents as they toured the signs. He said he was “very pleased (that) the only non-social distancing group gatherings that I observed were of what appeared to be families taking photos with their graduating senior.”
He recognized that the pandemic has robbed the Class of 2020 of “their last high school athletic events, their last high school band performances, their last high school play performances, their last high school Honor Society recognitions, and many other last high school activities. It has also robbed them of their senior class trip, their senior prom, and of course, the joy, pride and honor of walking across the proverbial stage in front of their family and friends to receive their diploma.”
But, he said, the strong family orientation that is Vernon’s hallmark has come through to honor the community’s graduates.
“Vernon Township will not allow it to total rob our graduating Vernon Township High School seniors of the opportunity to be recognized, honored, appreciated and congratulated for achieving an important accomplishment in their lives,” Burrell said.
“Vernon Township will not allow it to total rob our graduating Vernon Township High School seniors of the opportunity to be recognized, honored, appreciated and congratulated for achieving an important accomplishment in their lives.” -- Mayor Howard Burrell