April 17, 2020
By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources
WALNUT, CA—Walnut High School has scored a one-of-a-kind gift for the Class of 2020 who are spending the last weeks of school not with peers, but under quarantine along with the rest of the country.
With yearend activities and commencement cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Principal Dr. Ryan Maine has been intent on marking graduation day with something special for the 588 seniors.
On Friday, the enthusiastic school leader took to the airwaves to request a “huge favor” from Ryan Seacrest during his 102.7 KIIS FM morning talk show.
Maine asked the “American Idol” celebrity host to send a recorded message to be broadcast during a May 28 virtual recognition ceremony.
Why did he choose Seacrest for the assignment?
“When you look at a coolness factor, they have a principal that’s about a 2 or 3, and Ryan Seacrest is a 10!” Maine commented.
The popular radio and television personality quickly agreed to the unique request, promising to send a video in the next few days.
Maine hopes the personalized message will offer “hope and support” to the homebound Mustangs who will be missing all the pomp and circumstance of the season.
“Our seniors and their families have had May 28 circled on their calendar all year,” he said.
“We want to host a live graduation ceremony, but just don’t know when we’ll be able to meet in a football stadium with thousands of people.”
The school went from planning all the finals and senior activities to transitioning the entire curriculum online, Maine explained.
Since the closure, faculty and administration has been providing resources and support while gearing up for Distance Learning that begins April 20.
“It feels like we’re building an airplane while it’s up in the air,” Maine told Seacrest during the segment that aired April 17 at 9 a.m.
After hearing the broadcast, senior Matt Mayo, the school’s ASB president, said the news is like a “bright light in the darkness.”
“Our student body is so thankful! With the current circumstances, I know that many seniors and even parents are devastated, but Mr. Maine is going out of his way to make a long-lasting memory.”
“I think Ryan Maine is officially the coolest principal out there!” commented parent and Community Club President Lily Eibert.
“He is working hard doing as many things as possible to support and honor our Class of 2020.”
Last week, 20-foot vinyl banners with “We Love Our Seniors” and “Class of 2020 We Support You #2020 Strong” messages were displayed on campus.
Spring break kicked off with a virtual dance challenge featuring staff members breaking out their best quarantine moves to singer Rihanna’s “SOS”.
“We will go first and show you how it’s done!” he said in the April 10 YouTube video that has received nearly 10,000 views.
Mayo, 17, said the first-year principal has demonstrated a “passion for bettering lives.”
“It has been evident to everyone on campus through all the videos he makes, the relationships he’s built, and the solid culture of family he’s created for students and staff.”
Seacrest admitted he was a little “nervous” prior to speaking with the Walnut High leader whom he Googled before the conversation.
“When the principal’s younger that I am - I have to sit up straight!’ he said.
Walnut High Principal Dr. Ryan Maine takes to the radio to request graduation message for Class of 2020.