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Texas high school principal travels 800 miles, visits 612 graduating seniors on their doorsteps amid pandemic

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Fearing he'll be unable to hold a traditional graduation due to the coronavirus pandemic, one Texas high school principal traveled more than 800 miles, tracking down every member of the 2020 senior class, either at their homes or work, to congratulate them.

Wylie High School Principal Virdie Montgomery and his wife spent 12 days visiting a total of 636 addresses to find all 612 graduating seniors. Announcing the journey on his Facebook page, Montgomery said just “a 66-year-old fat, bald principal and his smoking hot wife" were hitting the road to find the students in the Dallas area.

Known for his “Wylie Pirates Pride,” Montgomery wore a Jolly Roger-patterned face mask and snapped a photo with each senior at their doorsteps.

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"I tell you what, that first day, at the end of the first day it felt like I had made a mistake. Because it was hard," Montgomery told WFAA. “I get emotional real easy with my kids. And I just didn't feel like I was doing enough. It just seemed like the right thing to do."

In lieu of a diploma, he handed each senior a note and a Snickers candy bar, an attempt at a “dad joke:” One day the students would all snicker about having to stay at home, rather than walk across the stage in their caps and gowns.

"I delivered that joke nearly 600 times. So it's pretty lame," Montgomery said. “I'm so, so, so, so very proud of them the way they've handled everything.”

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"I'm a sucker for puns and stuff, and that was perfect, that was right up my alley," one of the Wylie High School seniors, Savannah Skinner, told WFAA, adding that the visit from her principal made her day. “I'm not always in the best mood because it's been a while since I've seen anybody. So, it just brought a smile to my face and it made me really happy."

Montgomery had been posting regular updates for students on his YouTube page, dubbing his videos the “corona chronicles,” providing students with encouragement as they finished out the spring semester online, rather than in the classroom.

“It just gave me a peace about it," Montgomery said. "It's hard to put to words. It's rewarding just to know you did it."

The principal explained he’s still working on organizing a graduation ceremony, but he’s not sure when the state will lift restrictions banning large gatherings.

Wylie High School, about 23 miles from Dallas, Texas.

Wylie High School, about 23 miles from Dallas, Texas.

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The statewide stay-at-home order in Texas is set to expire Thursday, allowing some non-essential businesses, including retail stores, movie theaters and shopping malls, to operate at 25 percent capacity. Restaurants can once again open dining rooms provided customers maintain appropriate social distancing. Museums and libraries also were cleared to reopen without interactive exhibits.

Other measures banning large gatherings remain in place, and hair salons and barbershops have not been cleared to reopen for business until at least May 18.