ASHLAND -- It wasn't the closure the Ashland High School's senior class wanted; it wasn't the closure they envisioned as they started their final chapter of high school back in August 2019; and certainly, it wasn't the closure they rightfully deserve after an especially trying time.

Instead, Monday night provided just a small amount of much needed closure for the class of 2020 after Gov. Mike DeWine's earlier announcement to close Ohio schools for the remainder of the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At 8:20 p.m., Ashland City Schools joined schools across Ohio in a salute to the class of 2020 by turning on the lights at the Community Stadium and the Keith Wygant Fieldhouse for 20 minutes. 

"I think that's the hardest part. We don't have the closure most seniors get," AHS senior Luke Blackley said. "There's so many lasts. The last class with a teacher, the last band practice, all that kind of stuff. And we miss that. 

"So this to me, is bringing some kind of closure, at least at this time."

Cars lined Hiner Avenue and parking lots for an extended view of the lights, and others just drove by, honking and waving along the way.

Meanwhile, Blackley and several other students from the Ashland High School band gathered in a parking lot with some distance between them to play together, possibly for the last time. 

"These are my people. I miss this. I miss school, church and track," said senior Abby Sanders, who plays the French Horn. 

Her brother, a freshman at AHS, had asked to attend, and she agreed to come along. Monday, among fellow band members, she was happy she made that choice. 

"Music is a really great way to spread joy, especially at a time like this and my brother, freshman wanted to play. This could be the last time in a band setting to play with him."

 Meanwhile, Blackley led the band as the band's head field commander. He joined the band four years ago, played the trombone for two years and became a field commander last year. As a senior, he was promoted to the leading role. 

"It's good to be around friends at a safe distance," he said. 

Potential dates and multiple back-up dates have been set for prom and graduation, but these dates seem far off, he continued. It's hard to be hopeful amid the unpredictable situation. 

If social distancing requirements are lifted quickly, then the senior class could celebrate prom May 30 and commencement May 31. Otherwise, back-up dates are set for June 27 and 28th and Aug 1 and August 2, with prom followed each time by graduation. 

"It sucks, but I get it" Sanders said about the school closure. "I see the bigger picture and keep that in mind, but let myself recognize it sucks to be missing these things.

"And today, well, this it's really good to see these people because the reality is, this could be the last time." 

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