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Hugs, tears, turning the tassels and tossing the caps high up in the air.

For graduating seniors, these are often rituals of affirmation that they have reached a big milestone, and are ready for the next chapter of their lives.

But this spring, due to a pandemic, most of the hugs and the celebrations have been virtual.

A proper graduation ceremony is planned by the school at 4 p.m. June 20, at the stadium, consistent with the health restrictions that would be in place at the time. Rain date is 4 p.m. June 21.

Meanwhile, W-SR parents have taken on multiple initiatives to embrace, celebrate and affirm their students.

On Sunday morning, a group led by Waverly moms Sally Johnson and Kelly Goeke placed signs featuring all 163 seniors along the sidewalk in front of the high school.

Planted 6 feet apart, as has become the normal social distance from others in COVID-19 times, the display shows how adversity unifies the community in spirit.

Sally said she saw the posters idea in other communities and thought Waverly would implement it.

She was right, as the excellence of the education that students receive in the district is often one of the big draws — and one of the quality of life benefits — for families looking to relocate to town.

In less than two weeks since the idea took shape in her mind, Sally, and her friend, Kelly, had put all the logistics in place. Local banks and Veridian Credit Union, along with grandparents and parents, stepped up to foot the bill.

The signs were produced by Signs and Designs, a Cedar Falls business recently purchased by Joe and Melissa Barber, a Waverly family of entrepreneurs.

A group of parents showed up on Sunday morning to place the signs, and despite the gray weather, they popped like a row of yellow peonies on the street in front of the high school.

The display, which was featured in a video posted on the Waverly Newspapers website and Facebook page, has become an attraction for the community.

Walkers, joggers and motorists would slow down once they’d see the exhibit and many families — even those without graduating kids — have driven by for the sheer pleasure of enjoying the display.

On Tuesday afternoon, Staci Bruns and her kids, Eva, Dominic, Norah, Ethan, and Gabe walked up and down the street, admiring the display.

“It really looks great,” Staci said.

The seniors, whose motto is, “It is what it is,” will not forget the signs.

In fact, such a display may become a tradition.

“It’s a fun option that recognizes the graduates in a way the whole community can support,” said Melissa, the co-owner of the sign shop. “If it does become a tradition, that could be one of the silver linings of 2020. This class could look back and say, ‘That’s because of us!’”

Meanwhile, Sally and Kelly, who both have graduating seniors, said they are proud of their children and their community.

Asked what their message to the graduating students is as parents, they did not miss a beat:

“The class motto,” they both said.

“This is just one chapter in that journey,” Kelly continued, explaining how the class is handling the unexpected turn of fate. “It will make you stronger.”

“Very proud to be from Waverly right now,” Sally added.