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Surprise Celebration For 220 N.C. Graduating High School Seniors


So when graduation was canceled at West Craven High School in North Carolina, many of the seniors, of course, were heartbroken.

ASHLEY BRAMLET: It really hit my heart really hard.

TANNER POPLIN: Ever since you're a little kid, shows, TV, your parents say, you - that's like your big moment. But hearing that that got canceled and everything, it's like all that anticipation and all that expectancy is kind of, like - kind of gone.


That was Tanner Poplin (ph) and Ashley Bramlet (ph). They're seniors who figured they weren't going to get any kind of graduation. But then their high school principal called.

BRAMLET: He called us in advance and asked to be home between 9 and 1 o'clock p.m., that they were dropping something off. But nobody knew what it was.

GREENE: The principal, Tabari Wallace, got together a bunch of teachers and police officers, firefighters and even the local sheriffs, and they showed up at all 220 graduates' homes. Here's Principal Wallace.

TABARI WALLACE: What we did was we divided up to go to certain areas. Every procession had a police call, a fire truck and at least 10 cars behind them.

KING: So what were they delivering? Yard signs that announced in this house lives a member of the class of 2020. Here's Ayleah Wright (ph).

AYLEAH WRIGHT: I was so amazed to hear all the sirens and then everybody just screaming, being happy for me. That's what made me, like, feel good.

GREENE: They knew that they were not supposed to do it, but some of the students just could not help themselves and they went in for hugs. Here's Principal Wallace again.

WALLACE: Sometimes emotions are uncontrollable. So we did the best we could. But some - you know, some of them bust through and had to get there.

GREENE: Ayleah told us even before this, she was a huge fan of Principal Wallace.

WRIGHT: He's the one that helped me get through my toughest days at school, and he's the go-to person. He would help you. And then he'd just, like, change your mood 'cause he's a happy person.

KING: And as for Tanner Poplin?

POPLIN: It's just really nice to know that I'm noticed and that they're trying to help me all the ways they can. I've waited - what? - like, 12 years now. I can wait a little bit longer.

KING: Tanner, Ayleah and Ashley have signs in their yards for now, and then in August, they will actually get to walk the stage.

(SOUNDBITE OF SUBSETS' "LUNAR LIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.