JACKSON — Sunday afternoon's scenery at Carolina Dragway included blue skies and plenty of blue down below, with this year's corps of Silver Bluff High School seniors decked out in at least parts of their graduation attire for a procession to celebrate their completion of a strange academic year.
Residents of Jackson, New Ellenton and Beech Island decorated their vehicles and took part in a 30-minute salute at the dragstrip, offering some joyful noise in honor of the seniors, whose final year in Petticoat Junction was radically altered by the national shutdown in response to the coronavirus.
This year's corps of graduating seniors at "The Bluff" numbers 138, and about 40 showed up for Sunday's festivities, with plenty of encouragement to spread out on both sides of about 100 yards of pavement to honor health-related guidelines.
"Ever since the corona came around, the community's been ... very supportive," said senior Jabez Roberson, a Petticoat Junction resident who is planning to attend Claflin University to study business administration. "I just appreciate it. It just shows the support system we have here, around Petticoat Junction."
Classmate Caleb Hornsby, from New Ellenton added, "I think it's something that we were looking forward to for a while. I mean, since the coronavirus and all that other, it's been pretty hard to be able to graduate and get everything set."
Hornsby's weeks and months ahead, he said, will include "job-searching some more, and hopefully down the road, going into law enforcement."
Roberson, Hornsby and hundreds of their neighbors are to be on campus again Thursday morning, with the school's commencement ceremony set for 10 a.m. on the football field.
The school's website notes, "To protect the safety of our students, staff members and families amid COVID-19 concerns, graduates will receive just two tickets to the ceremony and strict social distancing protocols will be in place. In an effort to accommodate the numerous family members and friends who are eager to witness our students graduate, ceremonies will be live-streamed and available live and anytime after the live-stream right here on our website."