Houston County woman organizes graduation salute for seniors


ELKO, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Houston County woman, with the help of strangers, made sure high school seniors were celebrated.

“It was definitely a shock, but God will always make a way so I just put my trust and faith in Him and ever since then I’ve been feeling a whole lot better about the situation,” Perry High School senior Casey Hunter said.

Schools across the state and country are postponing ceremonies or having virtual ceremonies.

In one case, a woman, with the help of friends and strangers, held a ceremony of her own.

“I just remember when my two children graduated from high school, my last son graduated last year, I remember how important it was and how memorable the moments were and to know that the students and parents this year were robbed from that, I wanted to come up with something that would put a smile on their faces,” organizer Shontorria Finn said.

Finn couldn’t imagine having students and families miss out on such a monumental moment, so she came up with the idea for a Graduation Salute Parade.

“I reached out to this pastor I never met before and asked him if he would be a part of this vision – he opened it doors,” Finn said.

With Pastor Darrell McIntosh of Green Grove Baptist Church helping, she asked her husband–who rides bikes–to invite his friends, and with the power of social media, complete strangers came out to celebrate seniors.

“God is love and God doesn’t know us to love us, and I don’t have to know anybody to love them, so I love people and I was advertising, advertising, I mean it was just a beautiful turn out,” she said.

It meant so much to seniors like Hunter.

“This is everything for the church to give this opportunity to have some type of celebration during this dark time, so just to shine a little light on it, it really does mean a lot to me, my family, and my peers,” Hunter said.

Hunter says he’s attending Fort Valley State University in the fall to pursue a degree in Agriculture Engineering Technology.

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Tanya comes all the way from Chicago, Illinois. She’s a city girl that’s excited to be a part of Middle Georgia’s community and tell your stories! She received a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. She also spent a few semesters studying at San Diego State University. While in college, she interviewed Joan Rivers before she passed away, was on the red carpet for the movie premiere of “Chiraq” and also interned with ABC7’s investigative reporters and Bill Kurtis. Tanya spent nearly 2 years reporting in Billings, Montana where she covered a lot of politics and agriculture. In her spare time, Tanya is a sports fanatic, so even though the Chicago Bears and Bulls didn’t know how to win this season, she still roots for them. You can guarantee you’ll run into her at the gym every day. If you do, stop by and say hi! Share your stories with her and don’t be surprised if she’s hiding chocolate chip cookies in her gym bag.