Mark Kopp

It is that time of year again. The time when we honor all of the graduates of Franklin County Schools. 

Each year, students from Franklin County High School and Western Hills High School walk across the stage, shake my hand and collect that most precious piece of paper that they have worked to attain for 13 years — their diploma. The diploma that will open countless doors for them as they step out into the world to make their own way. Whether they are entering the military, the workforce, or attending college, their diploma signifies a completion of their schooling and the beginning of the rest of their lives.  

Each year, we honor our students in recognition of this significant accomplishment. This year, though, really requires us to reflect on the challenges the Class of 2020 faced and shine a special light on these students.

Seniors in the Class of 2020 have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They have missed out on so many cherished memories, events, and activities during this time of quarantine. These include spring sports and extracurricular clubs and activities, traditional senior events, going to their senior prom, and an in-person graduation ceremony (for the time being, though we do plan on having one in the future when the restrictions are lifted). This is in addition to missing out on in-person classes and spending those last few precious months of their high school years with their classmates, teachers and staff members at school.  

Parents, students, administrators, teachers and staff members have all united during these last few months to find ways to honor the Class of 2020. So many wonderful ideas and events have come from this work together.

Signs were created by schools, parents and our community partners and distributed throughout Franklin County to honor our students. Each of our high schools held parades to honor our graduating seniors.

The State Journal created a special section to honor our students, both on the web and in print. And our school district worked collaboratively with the Frankfort Plant Board to create two virtual graduations, one for each high school, that will air Saturday on FPB Channel 10 and on the Plant Board’s Facebook Live web feed (Franklin County High School graduation will air at 2 p.m. and Western Hills High School at 6 p.m.).

And just a quick note of thanks to the Frankfort Plant Board staff — they have donated so much time, effort, and resources in creating these ceremonies and have not charged our district a penny. We are so thankful for your hard work, kindness and collaboration!  

And while we are on the subject of giving thanks, we would be remiss to not give thanks to all of the parents, community members, administrators, teachers and staff members who have contributed their time, effort and resources in making the best of a challenging situation for our students.

And thank you also for helping our students all along the way of this journey. Your efforts in teaching, leading, assisting, counseling and providing support for our students are easily seen in the wonderful young men and women they have become.

And lastly, we would like to say thank you to our students. Thank you for learning, growing and leading. Thank you for the hard work you all put in to make this day a reality. Thank you for respecting your parents and family members, teachers, school leaders, fellow classmates and yourselves.

Thank you for bringing joy and smiles to our faces on a daily basis. And thank you for being you. We are proud to have played a role in helping you reach this wonderful day.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

Mark Kopp is superintendent of Franklin County Schools. He can be reached at

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