By Norm Cannada

The Journal

SENECA — They say one picture is worth a thousand words, but there’s a lawn at Seneca’s Miracle Circle filled with large photos of the Seneca High School Class of 2020 that is likely worth a lifetime of memories.

Senior portraits cover the lawn in front of Lila Doyle to honor the Seneca High School Class of 2020. (Savannah Blake | The Journal)

The photos of each member of the class are stapled to stakes in front of Lila Doyle off U.S. Highway 123 and were done to honor the students who have had an unusual end to their senior year as a result of COVID-19.

The project was a partnership between the city of Seneca, which paid for the photos, Seneca businessman Eddie Adams and a group of Seneca High School juniors who helped Adams install the photos on the lawn.

City administrator Scott Moulder said he was approached a couple of months ago by a member of Seneca City Council who was concerned about how the coronavirus would affect the high school seniors, who wouldn’t have the traditional opportunities in the last months of their senior year. He wanted to do something special for them.

“They’re graduating at a time where they’ve seen significant impact to their school year and their family’s lives,” Moulder said. “The city wanted to do something to recognize them, and I reached out to the principal, Mrs. Felicia LeRoy, and we came up with some ideas. We wanted to do it in a big way that would be special — something that they would remember and something everybody wouldn’t miss. We hope that the kids enjoy it.”

Moulder said he was working on the project before an EF3 tornado hit Seneca on April 13, pushing the project to the backburner.

Adams had a similar idea after talking to parents of seniors. He then talked to LeRoy, who told him Moulder and the city were interested in doing something. With Moulder focused on the tornado, Adams thought he could help.

“I called Scott and said, ‘I know that you have too much on your plate. Can I take the lead on this for you?’ He said, ‘Yes, please,’” Adams said. “I didn’t want it just to be something in passing. We wanted to come up with something that would really stand out for the kids.”

Adams contacted Prisma Health Oconee Memorial Hospital campus CEO Hunter Kome, who agreed to let Adams use the property near Lila Doyle.

Adams got help from his son, Gregory, and four other Seneca juniors — Lance Kates, Raygan Teeter, Grayden Candler, and Tim Hipskind. LeRoy said the students worked an entire day to help Adams put the photos of the students on the stakes.

“We put it together, and I think we’re real happy,” Adams said.

Retired Seneca fire chief Jan Oliver said Friday afternoon he plans to paint “2020 Cats” on the grass in front of the photos today.

Adams, Moulder and LeRoy said some of the seniors went to see the tribute Thursday night.

“I’m really glad. That’s what I wanted,” Adams said. “It’s really great that the hospital would allow us to do that, because it gives them a safe place to pull in and park and then walk and see their pictures. We talked about putting something on the side of the road or some other place, but this sort of really fit. We were able to put it all together and make it look like a big class picture.”

LeRoy said she has been excited about the project since first hearing about it.

“I’ve been about to bust wanting to tell everybody about it, because I knew it was going to be just a tremendous sight to behold, and it is,” she said.

While not telling them what was happening, LeRoy had told seniors to pay attention to Miracle Circle for a surprise.

“It was so exciting to see. I know what it will mean for our seniors and their loved ones,” she said. “They’re just so appreciative and excited — excited about graduation, of course, and then to have something special like this in their honor, the kids are just jumping up and down.

“It brightens their spirits. It gives them something to where they know their community is totally behind them,” LeRoy added.  “A lot of them don’t know Scott Moulder. A lot of them don’t know Eddie Adams. But to know that those men in our city provided that for them, it’s just going to be a huge boost to their morale. I’m just so appreciative on behalf of all the parents and the students.”

ncannada@upstatetoday.com | (864) 973-6680