ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. -- Newly installed banners are now lining several streets within the Village of Arroyo Grande.
The brightly colored blue and gold signs went up Monday morning to honor and recognize graduates at Arroyo Grande High School.
"The idea behind this was to get something together that would lift the community and lift the Class of 2020, which has been dealt devastating blow after blow for months now," said Arroyo Grande mayor Caren Ray Russom. "I'm very, very excited to be able to support them and support the community."
Ray Russom, an Arroyo Grande graduate herself, has a son who is in the Class of 2020.
She spearheaded the project as a way to publicly recognize, not just the graduates themselves, but the accomplishments of the entire class.
"We not only wanted to have the seniors to see their name on the banner, we also wanted to show the community who the Class of 2020 was," said Ray Russom. "We have all kinds of statistics, and achievements of the Class of 2020, including the list of merit scholars, valedictorians. We have Skills USA champs, mock trial, all kinds of clubs and sports. We wanted the community to see how special the Class of 2020 is."
For seniors, the banners are another way the community is showing its support to a group of students that are going through unprecedented times.
"It's hard," said Eron Ray. "You look forward to all these things. You see the seniors when you're in high school, and you get to see their prom and graduation and everything."
Ray was all smiles seeing his picture on a banner in Olohan Alley with the water polo team.
"I think it's great," he said. "I love it! All these signs and this support. This is going to go down in the history books. Nobody is going to forget it."
There are nearly 50 banners on city-owned poles, many of them lining East Branch Street, where several businesses remain closed.
As graduates, parents, family members, and others in the community come to the Village to see the banners, Ray Russom believes they can also help bring much-needed foot traffic to the area.
"It's a win-win," said Ray Russom. "We are certainly mindful that the businesses here and everywhere are struggling, so we are hopeful when you come down here to take a look at these banners, and enjoy and walk around, patronize our businesses. Help everybody get back on their feet.
Ray Russom added it took a coordinated effort from many community members over the course of several weeks to help finish the project.
"It's easy to have a big dream, but you can't do anything big without the help of many," said Ray Russom. "I had to collaborate with so many people to make something this big happen. Everyone I called, said, how can I help? They wanted to do something for the kids. It took a lot of people working together, between the school district, PG&E, and the city, and our donors, and the graphic design people, and the printers, and everyone doing their part in doing something really big and special for the Class of 2020."
Ray Russom pointed out Ray Ambler of RAPHOTOS, Erik "Spike" Thiesmeyer of Photos by Spike and Brand Creative West, Jeff Zambo, Shannon Hurtado, Gavin and Stephanie Burkard, Kevin and Stacy Bromley, Toyota and Honda of Santa Maria, Supervisor Lynn Compton, and the City of Arroyo Grande were all especially pivotal in the design, creation and printing of the banners.
The signs will be displayed on the poles until early June, but could remain up longer.