ASH GROVE, Mo. — We’re honoring the class of 2020 through “Graduate Together Ozarks.”

In Ash Grove, 56 seniors are getting a picture-perfect sendoff before they graduate.

Along Highway 160, the name and picture of every graduate are on display.

Makenna Johnson said this means the world to her..

“I went to Ash Grove my entire life, lived in this community my entire life, and so really seeing that they honor and appreciate us in such a large way is just really a blessing, honestly,” Johnson said.

Especially considering what she’s been through this school year.

“I missed out on a lot of events,” Johnson said. “I’ve always been a very active student. So, whether it be that I’m missing my last track season to my last FFA contest season, it’s really been hard.”

But gestures like this have made things better for her.

“Seeing just a full inspiration of hope that people care about us during this time, it really does bring a positive light into my life every day that I see it,” Johnson said.

Fellow classmate Dillon Magers said the display makes him feel great.

“I was able to do school and at the same time I was able to work over 50 hours a week with my father at our excavating and trucking business, and that really set me up for college,” Magers said.

Magers’ father, also named Dillon, couldn’t be happier to see his son on display.

“I’m very very proud of not only my son, but all the seniors, and I’m very excited to see the teachers and the town come together,” Dillon said.

With or without the pandemic, it was always Principal Chris Thompson’s plan to celebrate the senior class, which consists of about 60 students every year.

“We get to know them on a personal level, and I think that deepens our level of care and need and want to do something for them that’s extra special,” Thompson said.

He’s known some of this year’s graduates since they were seventh graders.

“To see them change and grow into a young adult with a spot aspiration of doing great things, and to know that I was a little bit a part of that, it’s a feeling that you really can’t put words to,” Thompson said. “It’s a feeling of pride, a feeling of joy, of happiness on my end.”

It’s always Thompson’s top priority to see his students graduate, but he hates saying goodbye.

“It is emotional,” Thompson said. “You put your life in this career and you put it into the kids, so. If it’s not emotional, I don’t know why you’re in the job, so.”

Ash Grove High School has a traditional graduation ceremony and prom scheduled in late June.