If you ask Conner Pederson if 2020 had the most unforgettable class of seniors to come through Greenwood High, he will almost certainly say yes.

“We went through a pandemic and we’re still graduating,” the student body president said. “I think that’s one of the most memorable things that’s ever going to happen at this school.”

Graduate they did. On Friday morning, 307 seniors walked into J.W. Babb Stadium and put behind them an academic year shaped by the COVID-19 response.

Seniors had to forget about prom, banquets and other end-of-year activities because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A possible in-person graduation seemed increasingly unlikely as schools closed and eLearning became the new normal for students.

Rebecca Karel, valedictorian, was disappointed when thinking about the senior events she missed. Having a traditional graduation allowed her, and others, to see all their classmates one more time before they went on with their lives.

“I haven’t seen them in months, so it’s great,” she said.

Karel had been in contact with Principal Chad Evans and guidance counselor Yvonne Strom while learning from home.

“They’ve been great through it all,” she said. “We’re really blessed to have this here, they’ve done a lot to make it happen.”

She appreciates Evans, Strom, other administrators and Greenwood County School District 50 for planning an in-person graduation for her class.

“This just shows how much they care for us,” she said. “It’s been really nice to at least have a graduation.”

Brady Bagwell, salutatorian, thought having “the rock of graduation” at the end of the year was really nice. He said working from home was tough in terms of keeping up with work, and not being able to see everyone.

It saddened Bagwell that he did not get to see his friends and teachers at the end of the year, but this graduation gave him and others a chance to say goodbye before they soar off to new beginnings.

“We’re really grateful that this is able to happen,” Pederson said. “It’s a lot of feelings and emotions, I can’t really pinpoint one.”

Contact reporter Jonathan Limehouse at 864-943-5644 or follow him on Twitter @jon_limehouse.