Measuring 100 feet long and filled with the names of nearly 800 graduating seniors, a pair of business owners in San Marcos, California, have given a memorable gift to their local class of 2020: a sign of hope and perseverance.
Rich and Jennifer Black have lived in Carlsbad for 20 years. They run Signarama in San Marcos, a shop specializing in signs and decals for other small, local businesses. When the coronavirus pandemic hit San Diego County, the couple quickly launched a secondary sign business called Signs4Students, offering customized yard signs for students graduating with the class of 2020.
The side hustle with the yard signs has kept their family business afloat in trying times. It has also been a way for the couple to help students feel proud of their academic achievements in this strange new world, including the 2020 graduates of San Marcos High School and Mission Hills High School.
The couple’s twin sons, Ben and Sam, are seniors at San Marcos High School, so the family knows firsthand how different – and difficult – graduation season is for the class of 2020. Still, they believe students should be proud of graduating, even as the coronavirus pandemic upends traditional ways of celebrating the milestone.
So, while creating small yard signs for students, the Blacks have also been on another mission: fundraising for a giant “Class of 2020” banner to cover the fences surrounding San Marcos High School and Mission Hills High School.
The couple started a program on their website to collect donations to pay for the giant banners. With those donations, they planned to create banners that would include the names of every senior graduating this year from those local schools.
Rich told NBC 7 they’ve been working with the principal at San Marcos High School to figure out the best time to hang the big banner on campus.
And, on Monday, they finally made it happen.
Jennifer told NBC 7 she and her husband hung the banner along the fence line on West San Marcos Boulevard, between Rancho Santa Fe Road and Knights Realm, which is the entrance of the campus. Jennifer said the banner was fully funded by donations collected through Signs4Seniors.
It took about 2 hours to put up.
Just like they envisioned, the banner lists the names of every single one of the 798 seniors in San Marcos High School’s class of 2020, including the couple’s sons.
Now, anyone who drives near the high school will see it.
The couple said they hope the banner becomes a symbol of pride for seniors, and maybe a place to snap a quick photo while following social distancing practices.
Jennifer said one of her sons already posed for a photo in front of the banner, near his name. Although he’s a typical too-cool teen, the mom said she could see a sense of pride in his eyes as he stood near the banner.
Jennifer said the banner would be on display just as students were set to go to San Marcos High School Tuesday to return their school-issued items. She was thrilled they would get a chance to see the project in person.
The Blacks were also able to round up enough donations to create a similar banner for Mission Hills High School. Jennifer said they will be installing that one on that campus this Friday.
With graduation season in full swing, the couple continue to make yard signs for the class of 2020. They’re also making class of 2020 car decals that students and parents can display with pride, especially at those car parades and drive-thru graduation parties that have very much become part of how the world celebrates milestones in times of COVID-19.
Also Tuesday, seniors over at Chula Vista High School were also given a beautiful gift: a hand-painted work of art on the school’s football field that included the names of every CVHS class of 2020 graduate. That project was spearheaded by school faculty, also as a special gesture for grads.