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Banners will soon be going up in Sebastopol, Forestville and Guerneville, honoring the classes of 2020 from Analy, El Molino and Laguna high schools.

In the ongoing quest to make up for graduating seniors missing to much of their senior year, Sebastopol City Councilmember Neysa Hinton and 5th District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins have joined forces to celebrate the Class of 2020 with banners that will be appearing throughout west county this week.

The banners congratulate the classes of 2020 from Analy, El Molino and Laguna high schools. There are 40 banners in all: 20 will decorate downtown Sebastopol and 20 more will be split between downtown Forestville and downtown Guerneville.

Hinton said she got the idea when two young friends, who’d seen similar banners in the city of Davis, asked her if the city of Sebastopol could do a similar thing for its graduates. Hinton, who had already pledged her $500 in councilmember discretionary funds to celebrating this year’s graduates, began to investigate the possibility.  

Because the West Sonoma County Union High School District reaches beyond Sebastopol, Hinton reached out to 5th District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, who pledged an additional $1,000 for the Sebastopol banners and $2,500 for banners elsewhere in west county. (She’s also funding banners for graduates in Roseland.)

Hinton said she just really felt for the kids graduating this year.

“They’re missing so many things that happen at the end of senior year,” she said. “The prom, senior skip day, year book day where you get out of school and sit on the lawn and sign each other’s yearbooks. All that never can be repeated.”

Sebastopol downtown merchants sign on to honor grads

graduate posters

Posters of Analy graduates went up around Sebastopol on Tuesday, June 2. 

Hinton is also working with the Sebastopol Downtown Association and the Chamber of Commerce to put posters of individual graduates in the front windows of stores around town.

This plan ran into a bit of a legal hitch when the school district’s lawyers decided that the waiver kids sign to allow the district to use their pictures wouldn’t stretch to cover the poster plan.

“They said every family had to opt in, which meant reaching out to every family of every graduate to get their OK,” Hinton said.

Not everyone replied, so some graduates will have posters and others won’t, which Hinton feels bad about.

“I offered to personally call people, but that was another privacy thing, like you can’t just give kid’s numbers out, even to city council people,” she said.

Hinton gave a shout out to the city of Sebastopol’s communications Director Holly Hansen, who shepherded the project through to completion.

Hinton said lots of people were eager to help out with both the banner and the poster projects.

“We all wanted to take care of all the grads in west county,” Hinton said. “You know, we’re just one big happy family — so many people graduated from one of the schools.”

Hinton said the signs and the posters will be put up this week.

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