“We all wanted to do our part to recognize our graduates, and I’m glad we were able to do that, while also letting them tell us what they had to say,” said Mark Klein, the creative services director for KALB, Gray’s NBC/CBS/CW affiliated stations in Alexandria, Louisiana.
Mark Klein, the creative services director for KALB, Gray’s NBC-CBS-CW affiliate in Alexandria, La. (DMA 178), shared a spot his station produced, a group of 2020 high school grads offering “a selfless message of what they’ve endured, and how through a little cooperation, the class that will follow them in 2021 could have a different outcome.”
Klein wrote: “This week last year, schools across America would pack churches, auditoriums and football fields with hundreds of bright-eyed seniors, eager to throw their caps in the air and officially become graduates.”
“For the class of 2020 — that won’t be the case. Instead, the group that was born after 9/11, already lived through a recession and never been without a cell phone, will graduate in the middle of a global pandemic. For weeks, I’ve thought ‘what message can we give to the class of 2020’ to let them know we’re here for them? What words can we tell them to encourage them as they don’t get to walk across the stage and shake hands with their principal? It’s a question that I kept asking until I realized — it was the wrong question. The thing is, we don’t need to give them a message. We need to listen to theirs.
“That’s what inspired this :60 spot. A chance for the class of 2020 to share their voice with our viewers. We reached out to every high school principal in Rapides Parish, our home parish, for their top graduate who would represent the school. Together, they tell a selfless message of what they’ve endured, and how through a little cooperation, the class that will follow them in 2021 could have a different outcome. It’s true — Central Louisiana’s class of 2021 continues to inspire us.
“This project has been in the works for a few weeks now. What started as a photo-submission on our website quickly got out of hand after a few hundred submissions came in in a few days. We reached out to the school photographers to get clearance to use their photos to go to work on the end card of the spot.
“At the same time, we were working with our school board superintendent and area principals to make sure every school in Rapides was represented. Because our schools recognize everyone above a 4.0 as a ‘top graduate’ rather than the traditional model of valedictorian, everyone included is considered ‘top of their class,’ and man — do they have a curriculum vitae to prove it. We shot with a future doctor headed to Tulane, class presidents, homecoming queens, the Rapides student of the year and even a softball star, who recorded on a newly installed turf ballfield that was never able to host a season this year due to COVID. Driving around the viewing area and shooting with them has been my favorite assignment of the year.
“This week alone, there have been countless parades of graduating seniors throughout the streets of Central Louisiana. Driving through neighborhoods, it’s common to find banners and balloons adorning graduate’s houses. In downtown, instead of the normal banners attached to our streetlamps, you’ll see photos of the class of 2020 graduates lining your way.
“We all wanted to do our part to recognize our graduates, and I’m glad we were able to do that, while also letting them tell us what they had to say.”
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