Truckee honors class of 2020 |

Truckee honors class of 2020


Faced with canceled cap-and-gown ceremonies due to the coronavirus crisis, the Sierra Sun and Tahoe Daily Tribune seek to highlight and honor the graduating Class of 2020.

One of several ways the communities around Lake Tahoe and Truckee can show support is through the Senior Spotlight Gallery, where photos and words of encouragement are published for all the students and the school community to see. The Senior Spotlight Gallery shares photos and memories in one convenient location to share with family and friends.

Enter now through June 6, 2020 at

In coming weeks, the Sierra Sun and Tahoe Daily Tribune will also provide coverage of the region’s new approach to graduation, including those of the virtual variety, and as well as reporting on the struggles students and their schools have faced during COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent stay-at-home orders.

Spring for high school seniors is a time when lifelong memories are made.

From prom to graduation, the final months that conclude years of academic work are filled with lasting moments, but due to the outbreak of COVID-19 the graduating class of 2020 is having to cope with much of that being taken away.

“I was looking forward to saying one last goodbye to all my friends,” said Truckee senior Ani Walterscheid on losing the end of the school year.

Walterscheid, who came up through the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District since being a kindergartener, said missing out on the social aspect of her final weeks of school has been the biggest loss. The outbreak of COVID-19 has also altered her plans going forward. Initially, she’d intended to continue school at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, but now plans on completing prerequisite work locally at Sierra College.

“Due to all of the COVID stuff going on, I decided it would be a smarter idea to stay home,” said Walterscheid, who plans on later transferring schools.

Another Truckee senior, Kira Thomas, would likely have been competing in diving last weekend at the state championships, concluding four years of work on the Wolverines swim and dive team.

Instead of diving for state titles in Las Vegas, Thomas has been spending time at home working out via virtual meetings with her club team.

“That was the thing I’m most sad about missing out on,” said Thomas, who will attend the University of Texas Permian Basin in the fall, on missing out on competing for state. Thomas plans to join Permian Basin’s dive team.

While many of the final moments of high school have been taken from the class of 2020, Truckee and the broader community have come together to celebrate this year’s seniors by installing more than 170 banners bearing the names and photos of Truckee and Sierra High School seniors on poles throughout downtown.

“It’s definitely a bummer losing our year like this, but I feel really fortunate that the town is making this effort to try an honor us and make the best of it,” said Thomas.

The idea to place banners along downtown came about when Matt Hippler, whose daughter Emma is a senior at Truckee High, was looking for ways to celebrate the senior class.

As Hippler was reaching out to parents and officials from the school, at the same time Rose Weskamp of Sign Source was contacting members of local government about utilizing space on poles, which is typically used to advertise upcoming events, to honor the class of 2020. Once Hippler heard about Weskamp’s idea, the ball began rolling on creating banners for the class of 2020.

“Eventually all of that came together and everybody supported the idea,” said Hippler.

In roughly five days members of the community and local businesses raised more than $5,300 for the cost and installation of the banners, which are now hung from the roundabout near Burger Me on Donner Pass Road and extend through downtown to the Railyard Project.

“Top to bottom it was a true team effort by the parents,” said Hippler. “Working with Logan Mallonee at Truckee High and Greg Wohlman at Sierra High … but also there were a lot of individual contributions that made it happen, and then there were some businesses that were very generous with their donations.”

Numerous individuals, families, and local businesses made donations for the project, including substantial contributions from Zano’s Family Italian & Pizzeria, Langenkamp, Curtis & Price, Mountain Home Center, and the Darzynkiewicz Family.

Sign Source supported the project as well by creating the banners at cost price.

The banners were also put in place due to the support of Kathy Hess Slocum from Just Imagine Marketing and Design, Christina Cutler from Cutler Graphic Design, Chelsea Walterscheid, Matt Hippler, the Town of Truckee, the Truckee Chamber of Commerce, the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, and Vice Mayor Anna Klovstad. Support and time of Truckee High Principal Mallonee, Sierra High Principal Wohlman, and Superintendent Dr. Leri were also instrumental in making the project happen.

After the banners come down in mid-June, they will be given to each of the graduating seniors as keepsakes.

“It’s a great way to congratulate our seniors and show the community that we did it, because it feels like we don’t get that big bang of the graduation,” said Walterscheid. “Having the banners up is a great way to say goodbye.”

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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