PLACERVILLE, Calif. — Just when the high school seniors in Placerville thought they'd miss out on their graduation, youth group leaders from Vantage Point Church knocked on their door hold a fishing pole.
In this rural community, fishing is commonplace. But during this visit, the youth group's fishing pole had a diploma attached to the end of the line. Youth pastor Elijah Caron called it a surprise socially distant graduation.
"With all the social distancing in place, and the idea we can't really touch, we thought what better way than to deliver their diploma on a fishing line," Caron said.
In all, Caron says 11 different seniors in the Placerville area received a "mock" diploma via a fishing pole. Vantage Point Youth group worked with parents to surprise the seniors at home or while on a walk in their neighborhood.
The fishing pole graduation included an individual ceremony with speeches and music.
Safety was top priority, obviously, so youth leaders wore full body protective suits and even gave graduates a gown and hat to wear.
The seniors' front doors are a far cry from the football field or gymnasium they were supposed to graduate in, but the digital audience for these personalized ceremonies far exceeded their school's capacity.
The entire event was recorded and posted on social media.
"These videos have been seen by thousands of people, so they had more people attend their graduation than they would have attended the first place," says Caron.
In a rural community like this, traditions are strong. But it takes a strong community to adapt and start new traditions.
"An amazing bi-product of what we did and what we've seen is that there are thousands of other youth groups and people who have seen these videos and have already let us know that they will be doing this in their community," Caron said.
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