Senior year is usually all about creating memories with the friends you have grown up with. Students look forward to attending prom, playing their last sports season, performing in their last spring musical, or even walking across the stage and throwing their cap at graduation.

But when schools closed around Illinois in March 2020, high school graduates didn’t get to finish their senior year, and these highly anticipated events weren’t held -- at least in a traditional way. 

Several INB staff share what it was like watching their child’s senior year drastically change, and what they did to make the best of it… 

Prom On the PorchHigh school prom photo

Aimee Craft, Assistant Branch Manager for INB’s Riverton branch, tells us that her son graduated from Riverton High School. The cancelation of prom was disappointing, but instead they hosted “Prom on the Porch,” a fun, makeshift prom night.

Riverton High School also created a drive-through graduation for the seniors and their families to experience. They were able to go into the school, receive their diplomas, and walk across the stage.

“While it was nowhere near normal, I am very thankful that they were able to come up with a way for them to walk across the stage,” Aimee says.

Celebrating Seniors Andrew Chiaro senior photo

According to Caeri Chiaro, VP of Lending Compliance, Glenwood High School did a lot for graduating seniors like her son, Andrew.

Despite the initial disappointment that came with the graduation celebration being canceled, as well as Andrew’s end-of-year banquet for swimming, the events that happened instead were still special.

For example, the district got together and hung posters outside the football field so that everyone was able to see the high school graduates. The school also put together a graduation parade and a graduation ceremony, allowing each senior to walk across the stage. 

“The experience was recorded and a compilation of each individual video will be aired ‘drive-in’ style with concessions in mid-July, so that the graduates can see all of their friends get their diplomas on a big screen in the high school parking lot,” Caeri says.

And there’s more to come: “Next summer, the school is planning to hold a picnic for all of the 2020 graduates,” Caeri shares.

Senioritis TakeoverColtin Raison graduation photo

“If you think senioritis is bad normally, throw in a pandemic!” laughs Kelly Raison, VP, Chatham Branch Manager and Retail Operations and Process Improvement Manager.

Kelly says it was a struggle trying to keep her son, Coltin, engaged and focused as a senior at North Mac High School, but they all learned from the experience. 

“I think it was a great learning lesson for the seniors in the fact that they have to be ready for change at any given moment - and how they accept and adapt to that change is huge,” Kelly says.

As of now, Coltin is planning on attending the workforce study program at Lincoln Land Community College to become a lineman. “I can’t wait to see how his life is going to turn out!” Kelly says.

Looking Ahead for Incoming Seniors

Unfortunately for upcoming seniors, the future is still unknown for what will happen this upcoming school year. All of these makeshift events, such as prom on the porch and drive-through graduation, could ultimately become the “new normal.” 

Heather McArty, VP, branch manager at Fairmount, has a daughter, Olivia, who will be starting her senior year in the fall. 

As Student Council President and a member of the varsity cheerleading squad, Olivia is hoping school will resume like normal so she can experience her last year of high school. But if it doesn’t, she has a plan to make the most out of her experience.

If, for some reason school opens up in an abbreviated fashion, she is considering graduating early so she can begin to take college classes early.