Golf course owner offers fairway to Liberty High School graduates for outdoor ceremony

GLEN DANIEL, WV (WOAY) – Liberty High School in Glen Daniel announced on Facebook the school would be doing a drive-through graduation ceremony with one car per graduate. 

Rhonda Calloway owns Hidden Valley, a golf course alongside motocross and side-by-side race tracks. A Liberty graduate herself, when she saw the high school’s idea for graduation and then took a look at her own property, she came up with a way to add to the celebration. 

“We were out here mowing, striping one day, and I was thinking, ‘You know, this is a huge fairway.’ We had a wedding out here not too long ago, just family and friends, and I was like, ‘We could throw this together and let these kids graduate here.’” 

From there, all it took was a Facebook post as it began circulating, catching the attention of parents, students and community members.

Now, the plan is being put into motion as it will give families plenty of space to social distance, pull their cars up, sit outside in their own chairs and watch a somewhat traditional ceremony. 

Michelle Birchfield, the mother of Jordan Birchfield, a senior at Liberty, says she was thrilled when she saw the idea on Facebook.

“I hate it for the whole class of 2020 across the nation that they don’t get to experience an actual ceremonial graduation. That’s why we’re so happy that Rhonda thought of this because it does kind of give them a little bit of normal in their life when there is no normal,” Birchfield said. 

The owners of Hidden Valley will mark off six-foot increments to make sure everyone is following the guidelines, but Calloway says community members pretty much have everything else covered.

Photographer Annie Simms reached out to shoot it for free. Trevor Quarles, the owner of a local trucking company, offered to help build the stage and Calloway’s sound crew for racing events will do the PA system.

She says this just proves the support that is coming from the close-knit community for the 134 graduates of Liberty High School.

“Really, I’m not doing anything except for closing down for the day, giving them a nice mowed fairway and just had enough friends and community outreach to make this work for them,” Calloway said. 

Calloway says this is not meant to replace the graduation already scheduled for May 22 at Liberty but just to add to it as they hope to have the golf course ceremony on May 17. She says all graduates are invited. 

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.