With large gatherings like graduation ceremonies now impossible to attend amid the coronavirus pandemic, a Texas high school principal made it his mission to pay a personal visit to each of his school’s 612 graduating seniors as they finish their last semester of high school from home.
Wylie High School principal Virdie Montgomery traveled more than 800 miles over 12 days to visit a total of 636 addresses to congratulate each of the graduates, according to WFAA.
He used Facebook to share his journey, introducing himself as just “a 66-year-old fat, bald principal and his smoking hot wife” who were hitting the road to track down students in the Dallas area.
To promote safety, Montgomery, known for taking pride in the school’s pirate mascot, wore a Jolly Roger printed face mask and met each student out on their doorstep where he posed for a photograph with each senior.
Ok...how long does it take a 66 year old, fat, bald principal and his smoking hot wife to make home visits to 612...Posted by Virdie Montgomery on Tuesday, April 28, 2020
He wrote on Facebook, “I am excited to have been able to accomplish this mission. There were times I had my doubts that this was a good idea but getting to see the kids reassured me and motivated me each day along with the support, encouragement and navigation heroics of my wife.”
“All I know is that for me it was something I needed to do. I can’t adequately describe the reward it is to get to do this and see these kids in their natural environment.”
And Montgomery didn’t show up empty-handed— he gave each student a Snickers bar. He explained to WFAA he wanted to remind them that one day they’d be able to look back on the unusual time and “snicker.”
“I delivered that joke nearly 600 times. So it’s pretty lame,” Montgomery said. “I’m so, so, so, so very proud of them the way they’ve handled everything.”
“I get emotional real easy with my kids,” he told WFAA. “And I just didn’t feel like I was doing enough. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Montgomery has been keeping in touch with students via his YouTube channel through videos he calls the “corona chronicles,” offering words of encouragement to keep teenagers engaged and inspired as they complete their spring semester in isolation.
The principal still hopes to host a graduation ceremony for 2020’s graduating seniors, but is waiting for the state to once again allow large gatherings.
Texas’s statewide stay-at-home order expired Thursday. Non-essential businesses, including retail establishments, movie theaters, and shopping malls are now permitted to operate at 25% capacity. Museums and libraries can operate as long as proper public social distancing is enforced, and restaurants are able to open dining rooms if diners are seated 6 feet apart.
Hair salons and barbershops are set to follow, with reopening scheduled for May 18. Large gatherings are still banned in Texas for the foreseeable future.