Scotts Valley High School senior banners
Driving along Scotts Valley Drive, one can see the impressive display of banners with graduating seniors adorning the road. (Contributed)

The Class of 2020 got a raw deal when it came to celebrating their senior year. The introduction of Covid-19 in March of that year put the kibosh on just about every year-end tradition that graduates look forward to their entire scholastic career: senior prom, senior trip, senior ditch day, graduation and grad night. 

Instead, 2020 grads found themselves attending classes online during what should have been a festive and invigorating time of year, and the pomp and circumstance of their achievements were stymied by a highly contagious and deadly virus.

In response to the complete collapse of senior activities, Scotts Valley High School devised a plan to give the graduates of 2020 an entirely different type of recognition: they developed the Senior Banner Program. Seniors’ portraits were placed on large, sturdy banners that graced Scotts Valley Drive from end to end, and a new tradition was born.

Every year since 2020 has found the road embellished with the signage; now, in 2024, Heidi Weaver Denger and Katie Howell are working together to ensure that the practice of celebrating seniors via the Banner Program continues.

Denger, vice president of the SVHS Parent Club and committee chair for senior activities, and Howell, co-chair of senior activities, have embarked on the fundraising aspect of the event, and are looking outward for assistance.

“Being that Scotts Valley is such a close-knit community, this type of recognition made sense in 2020, and still does today,” said Denger, who chaired the Senior Banner Program in 2021 and 2022.

Denger is a senior parent yet again and is running the program for the Class of 2024.

“We were looking for a way to do something memorable for this graduating class because they were freshmen when Covid hit,” Howell said. “As sophomores, they were still doing distance learning, masking and weren’t able to fully enjoy their high school experience.”

Funding for the program has been primarily generated by senior parents, and Denger has done what she can to keep costs low.

“In 2021 and 2022, I was personally up in a boom truck, hanging each one of those banners,” Denger said.

Since then, liability has become an issue, and the City of Scotts Valley has developed a policy that prohibits individuals from participating in the erection of the banners.

“We now have to hire a city-approved vendor to install and remove the banners, which fundamentally doubles the cost of the program,” Denger said. 

While parents are now asked to contribute, Denger and Howell are turning to the community to help fund the program.

“Senior year is a very expensive time for families. From senior portraits to prom to yearbooks and caps and gowns, it costs an average family hundreds of dollars to support their graduating student. Add in the cost of the banners, and it can be prohibitive to some,” Denger said.

Covello and Covello Photography provides the SVHS senior portraits free of charge to the banner producers, Art & Display in Santa Cruz, and while both companies attempt to keep costs low to better support the initiative, it is still unreachable for some.

“We do not want to leave any child unrepresented. Inability to provide payment will not keep a senior from getting recognized in this way,” Denger said.

With the Scotts Valley School District not funding a penny of the program, the senior parents are entirely reliant on the community to keep the streetside celebration going.

Denger and Howell are asking each senior family to contribute $75 for their grad’s banner; knowing that there are some that cannot afford that cost, they’re seeking support from area residents. 

Why not turn to local businesses for sponsorship of the project? 

“All of the schools in the district tap into our community businesses multiple times per year to support various fundraising efforts; we feel like those businesses already give an inordinate amount of help to the schools, so we’re looking to fund this program in a grassroots way,” Denger said.

And that’s where Press Banner readers come in. Driving along Scotts Valley Drive in June and seeing the impressive display of graduating seniors adorning the road brings a sense of pride in one’s community; you’re invited to help support that feeling and give every SVHS senior an opportunity to shine as they cross the finish line of their high school journey.

There are several options to contribute to the Scotts Valley High School Senior Banner Program: visit or send a check to the SVHS Parent Club, ATTN: Grad Night, C/O Scotts Valley High School, 555 Glenwood Drive, Scotts Valley, 95066, or send the funds via Zelle to [email protected].

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Christina Wise covers politics, education, art & culture, and housing issues. She has a degree in Communication from San Diego State University, and has lived in the San Lorenzo Valley since 1996. She's a community advocate and a mother of two.


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