Paying tribute

Banners at Brice Field honor EHS seniors

By Bru Nimmons

Staff Reporter

EASLEY — Graduation, awards day and senior night.

For the Easley High School class of 2020, these important events may not happen as social distancing continues during the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, that’s not stopping those within the community from finding a way to recognize the efforts and achievements of what’s become known as a lost senior year.

It all began when District 6 Pickens County School Board representative Karla Kelley was approached by Amy Segee. Segee, whose son, Luke, is a senior at Easley, wanted the class of 2020 to get some form of recognition, so Kelley went to work.

Kelley teamed up with fellow school board member and Easley representative Betty Garrison to get the Easley seniors recognized. Starting with senior athletes, who traditionally have banners made, they worked with unanimous approval from the high school, the city and the school board and put a plan into motion.

“Everything happened so quick,” Easley athletic director Gill Payne said. “We just wanted to make sure everyone was represented.”

First, banners for all the senior athletes needed to be completed. Baseball and softball seniors already had banners made, but with more than 40 senior athletes, the task at hand was still daunting.

Two members of the Easley family proved to be tremendously helpful in getting the endeavor done. Shannon Santana, whose son, Christian, is a member of the football team, photographed seniors who had not yet gotten pictures for their banners, and Jennifer Durrah, wife of new Easley football coach Jordan Durrah, spent countless hours designing each banner.

With the banners close to being done, it was decided to place them on the Brice Field fence at Gettys Middle School near downtown Easley.

“It’s very visible to the public, and so many of these kids came from Gettys,” Kelley said. “We wanted to acknowledge their roots and give the middle school kids a sense of hope by seeing them.”

With the banners done and a location set, all that was left was to put the banners up. With the help of the city’s police and fire departments, the school resource officers, city officials, Mayor Butch Womack, school administrators and even some parents, the banners were placed on the field on Friday. In a little over two weeks, the idea had gone from a proposal to a completed project.

“No matter what, you can’t replace a senior season,” Payne said. “It’s devastating with the special group of seniors we had, but we’re glad to support them any way we can.”

Still, the mission is not over for Kelley and the Easley community. Since the beginning of the project, they’ve also been working on a way to recognize the entire class of 2020. The plan is to put up 26 banners in downtown Easley listing the names of each of the more than 350 seniors alphabetically.

“Hopefully they’ll be printed this week, so we can get them hung soon,” Kelley said.

In addition to the alphabetical banners, the town is showing its school spirit with green ribbons and bows. Joe’s Ice Cream Parlor, one of the leading employers of Easley’s senior class, started with a green bow in front of the restaurant, with many businesses soon following.

“The support we’ve gotten is amazing,” Kelley said. “Everyone from the city to the schools and the community has been so receptive.”