Knoch seniors get packages from teachers
Knoch High School's 213 seniors have waited 12 years for the culmination of their public school career: graduation ceremonies.
When that event was canceled thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the sympathetic teachers at the high school decided to deliver a graduation package to each student at their homes.
So on Friday morning, the teachers loaded up their cars with a yard sign and bag for each of the five students they were designated.
The bags contained a cap, gown and tassel plus letters from some of their teachers and honor cords for those who had earned them.
Brad Pflugh, a history teacher at the high school, strapped on his cloth mask to deliver the packages and signs to his five students while observing social distancing as much as possible.
He said he and his colleagues feel terrible for the Class of 2020 members, who were looking forward to prom, the senior banquet, commencement ceremonies and those heady last few weeks at school.
“And now it's over,” Pflugh said.
He said the teachers are also missing their final interaction with the seniors.
“You get really close to them, and now we don't get to say goodbye,” Pflugh said. “I only get to see five of them.”
Maddie Culleiton and her mother, Shelley, appeared on the front porch of their home after Pflugh called from the driveway to say he had arrived.
Both wore masks, and no hugs or handshakes were involved in the heartfelt transaction of handing over the bag and yard signs.
“It's unfortunate, because we worked so hard these last couple years ... just for this,” Maddie said.
She hopes commencement can be held on the postponement date of July 24.“We have such a talented class,” Maddie said. “I want to be able to see everyone again.”Shelley, who is a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospice in Cabot, said while the pandemic has deprived the seniors of their special events, everyone is affected.“I'm proud of her no matter what,” Shelley said.Maddie plans to follow in her mother's footsteps and study nursing in the fall at Butler County Community College.Caroline Ejzak also received her graduation package from Pflugh on Friday, for which she was grateful.“It is not ideal, obviously,” Caroline said, “but these are the cards we were dealt.”She said Pflugh was the favorite teacher for her and her two older brothers.“He's a legend in my family,” Caroline said, “and I love European history.”Her parents, Denise and Rich Ejzak, beamed at their daughter and Pflugh from an open window overlooking the front porch.“It's wonderful that the teachers would do this,” Rich said.Denise said she is proud of her daughter's positive attitude during the cancellations necessitated by the pandemic.“I wish she could have had the spring all together with her friends,” she said.Caroline will study communications at Loyola University in Chicago in the fall.Erin Brandt — whose triplet brothers Charles and Andrew received their graduation packages from other teachers — attended the Butler County Vocational-Technical School before all schools were shut down several weeks ago.“I'm a little upset because my whole life I've wanted to do culinary,” Erin said.She hopes to attend Indiana University of Pennsylvania's culinary school in Punxsutawney in the fall.“I want to open my own restaurant and bakery,” Erin said.Pflugh said he had all three of the Brandt triplets in his AP European history and 11th grade American history classes over the last few years.He said the triplets dropped by his classroom in the morning to say hello and goodbye in the afternoon.“They really are the most loyal little troop,” Pflugh said. “We got along really well.”He enjoyed having the Brandts at Knoch High School over the past few years.“Every period, you're walking in the classroom and there's a Brandt,” he said.Robert Wolf also received his graduation package and yard sign from Pflugh on Friday morning.“I think it's cool that the teachers are dropping these off, but I hope we still get to walk in a ceremony,” Robert said.He said he and his friends didn't get to say a proper goodbye on the last day of school because they were unaware that classes would be canceled the next day.Robert thought he would be back in school at some point.“I thought two weeks, and now it's been two months,” he said.Robert will take a year off before deciding whether to attend college or join the military.Pflugh said he was glad to deliver the graduation packages to the students.“They seem appreciative, but sad, too,” he said.