Coronavirus: Teen Notified She's Valedictorian In Drive-Thru Lane

GRAND TRAVERSE, MI — In a different year, administrators at Grand Traverse Academy in Michigan would have put a little more pomp into letting Kaitlyn Watson she had been chosen valedictorian for her graduating class.

But under the extraordinary circumstances presented by the spread of the new coronavirus, secondary principal Michelle Floering had to get creative. She wanted to notify Watson in person, which is traditional at the tuition-free charter school, but social distancing guidelines made the traditional handshake or congratulatory embrace out of the question.

Still, Floering didn’t want to completely eschew tradition.

So she went to the fast-food restaurant where Watson was working and shouted it through the drive-thru window, according to a video posted on Facebook.

“You are GTA’s 2020 class valedictorian!” Floering shouted.

Watson appeared stunned.

“I am? Oh my gosh!” she said while jumping excitedly. “Thank you so much!”

“You’re welcome,” Floering responded. “And I know we have to stay 6 feet away, so I can’t give you a hug, but congratulations. Well-deserved.”

Watson’s classmate Alyssa Tarkowski also learned the news she had been selected salutatorian in an unusual manner.

Floering wrote the news on paper tacked to the bottom of a water bottle, then did a “water bottle flip” to deliver the message, according to video posted on Facebook.

Related: Good News: Americans Helping Others Are Stars During Coronavirus

Grand Traverse, located in what is commonly called “Northwest Lower Michigan,” is a prime tourist destination with close proximity to Lake Michigan and Traverse Bay, as well was inland lakes and rolling hills.

Grand Traverse County had six confirmed cases of the coronavirus illness as of midday Monday.

Michigan is one of the fastest growing coronavirus hot spots in the country. There were about 350 confirmed cases a week ago, compared to about 5,500 statewide. More than 130 people have died. Across the country, there were almost 157,000 U.S. cases, 2,880 of them resulting in death, as of Monday afternoon.


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