GRACEVILLE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It seemed so far away...before the class of 2020 knew it, it was here:
A Poplar Springs senior records Drew Baldridge, who performs in front of the high school.
Poplar Springs High School was supposed to have graduation Monday night in the gym, but sometimes plans change for the better.
Like when the singer of your class song, "Senior Year," puts on a private show.
"I've got to say, this is way cooler than my graduation," country recording artist Drew Baldridge said to the crowd of 30 singers from his behind the microphone under the school's front arch. "You guys have buggies? Y'all about to leave go mudding."
"I never would have expected a country singer to be coming down here," senior Brayden Smith admitted. "I mean, it's totally different."
Everything is different this year.
When principal Farica West's efforts to honor seniors earlier this spring landed her an interview on Fox News, things got even more surreal.
"I was completely shocked and surprised when I heard from Drew's manager," West said.
Soon, everybody else was shocked. Baldridge drove down.
"We've just been doing Zoom concerts," Baldridge said. By the time his slate ends, he'll have performed 50 shows for schools, but this is his first time playing in person under these circumstances. "[The Zoom concerts] have been really cool, but to be able to see the kids faces, to see the impact this song is making, I'm just glad I get to be a small part."
A parade around campus replaced a procession, four wheelers substituted for folding chairs, and social distance subbed for for hugs.
"I haven't seen but one of my classmates since all of this," senior Hannah McPhail said. "That's only because she's my best friend. She drives by my house and we'll just wave."
But some things never change—like the feeling of senior year.
"That was our class song," senior Emily Gilmore said. "Everything in it was just us."
The power of song never changes either.
"Music heals," Baldridge continued. "I feel like this song is doing that."
And providing a soundtrack to the snapshots in their minds.
"Never thought it'd disappear. Senior year," Baldridge sings in his hit song.
But did 2020 really disappear?
"They're going to remember tonight," West said. "They're going to remember Drew. They're going to remember how much he cared."
If the smiles from cars and carts six feet apart are any indication, they will.
“Class of 2020," Baldridge shouted before walking off. "You guys are going to come back strong than ever.”
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