The COVID-19 Pandemic highly disrupted the school season here in Bossier Parish, especially for our graduating seniors. Then came the national uproar with protests, riots, and highly contentious debate caused in our nation, our state and right here in our home parish.
But through all this turmoil, I am here to tell you that our folks right here in Bossier Parish showed me and the rest of the nation that our residents are people of respect and patriotism. I already knew that…but with all the negative news we are subjected to right now, I thought this positive news was worth highlighting.
From June 9 – 13, 2020, all six of our Bossier Parish High Schools held their commencement ceremonies under unique circumstances by conducting their graduations at their respective football stadiums. And in each ceremony, it made me extremely proud to be Sheriff of Bossier Parish and to be a resident of this outstanding parish. From the first ceremony at Bossier High School, followed by Haughton, Parkway, Benton, Plain Dealing and Airline, every ceremony was conducted with the utmost respect.
Each graduation ceremony was like attending a high school football playoff game with a packed house, as some 1,300 seniors who received their diplomas were joined by parents, grandparents, family, and friends for this special occasion. The Bossier Sheriff’s Office had up to 18 deputies in attendance at each ceremony, along with Haughton Police, Bossier City Police Reserves, and Plain Dealing Police, to help with traffic control, security, staff assistance, and helping with safety guidelines.
At every one of these ceremonies with many thousands of guests, our deputies received numerous comments of gratitude and thanks for their law enforcement service. We have 45 School Resource Officers serving at our Bossier Parish Schools, with 12 of those SROs serving directly at our six high schools. People would routinely tell them, “Thank you for protecting our kids.”
Our deputies did not receive one complaint during the graduation ceremonies. There were no negative vibes. Their ceremonies were absolutely fantastic. The attendees were the epitome of respect.
And people were also patriotic. When Old Glory was hurled and the National Anthem was sung, they stood in support of freedom. Freedom that we enjoy here in Bossier Parish and our nation because of men and women serving on The Thin Blue Line and in our armed forces. Simply proud to be an American.
This year’s outdoor graduation ceremonies at the football stadiums were unlike those in the past where the ceremonies were typically held indoors at CenturyLink Center. These are certainly unprecedented times. But while the ceremonies were a bit unique, the respect and patriotism that our folks here in Bossier Parish displayed was just how our folks are. It’s nothing new. Whether a pandemic or protest, we are proud to be Americans.
Julian Whittington is Bossier Parish Sheriff.