Cleveland High School seniors create tribute video to fellow classmates

CLAYTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Representing more than 400 senior class at Cleveland High School's Class of 2020, four students put together a video that is going viral in the Clayton community.

They tell ABC11 that about 70 percent of the school's more than senior class read a line in the video.

Abigail Pittman, one of the writers, says the video is an opportunity "to see, hear all of our voices, to be able to go 'oh, that's my friend!"

The writing and editing took several weeks, and the team of students crafted it carefully.

"We had about 40 different lines," said video editor Boone Williams, "And we separated them out with little notes like, how you're supposed to say each line. So it would be like, "Gen Z. Say it with intensity, pause after this word."

The result, mixed with music, tugs at your heartstrings.

"It's okay to feel those emotions. And so, I think that's one of the reasons we wanted to put together this spoken word poetry. In order to inspire people not to give up," said co-writer Gabrielle Bryant.

Co-writer Veronica Mack told us their work really resonates, now that it appears the entire class won't be together again for a while.

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"Originally, the school was gonna open back on May 15th. And then the governor canceled it for the rest of the school year. But I thought we'd still kind of have those two weeks," she said.

Now as they watch, like many of you who see it here for the first time, "You're like, "Oh my gosh! The waterworks start," Pittman said. "You know what I mean?"

"I did cry a lot," Bryant admitted. "Because I didn't realize how the power of our words would speak to people."

They do now, and they hope what they've created will help others outside of Johnston County cope with the disappointment of this abbreviated final year of high school.

Read the full transcript of 'The Cleveland High School Class of 2020':

"We are Gen Z.

Generation Z.

Some say that in the same tone used to lecture a petulant child.

Some say it as if we are too young to know, too foolish to get it, and

Too self-centered to care.

Born with a cell phone in hand, keeping up streaks and TikTok crazes.

More interested in enjoying the now than thinking about tomorrow.

Numb, finding humor in tragedy, distracted by games and memes

Never focused for more than a minute.

But there's more to us. More than people realize.

More to us. More to this group. More to Gen Z.

The only world we've ever known has been one filled with challenges.

For us, it has only ever been post 9/11.

A world where airport security lines are longer than the flights people take.

We have seen the economy skyrocket

And then we've seen the bottom fall out.

We know that shiny credit cards are just a trap for material wealth, and that one day, the true price of debt has to be paid.

As many challenges as we've seen, we've also only ever known a world of hope.

We have seen people our age raise the voices of our generation, speak on issues that extend beyond themselves. We have watched people give and donate and sacrifice themselves. And we have learned.

We know that right now...the whole world has hit the pause button. Our whole lives have been suspended or postponed or delayed.

As high school seniors, our final baseball season has been called off.

Prom dresses hang in our closets unworn.

We wonder how many times we would have heard Pomp and Circumstance on a loop

or what wisdom the speeches might have tried to impart

or what it feels like to turn the tassel and toss our caps

Or if we'll even hear our name called out as we walk across the stage in front of our families and friends

"This is unprecedented." Over and over.

All because of a pandemic that's out of control.

A pandemic forcing us to put our dreams on hold.

We are a boat in the storm of our lives. It could make us or it could break us

But we are determined to remain unbroken.

The waters will not calm once life returns to normal.

We will remember the fear and the memories that will linger in the back of our minds.

But we move forward. We survive.

We will learn from experience, and we'll learn from this.

No one is going to get a star sticker for keeping their sanity. There will be no participation trophies.

But there will be moments to cherish.

Moments to laugh, to love, to truly live.

We take each new blow in stride, letting the wave of emotion hit us and then pass.

We adapt.

We find new ways to recognize traditions.

We find new ways to connect with one another.

We find new ways to feel human. We care.

The class of 2020 is unlike any other...

Let us be reminded of that as we move forward and let the world recover.

We are strong.

We are resilient. We will get through this, supporting and loving each other as we go. We will be inspired for change. Just wait to see what we accomplish, because we're going to soar!

We are Gen Z.

We are hopeful. We are unique.

We are creative. We are enduring.

We are Cleveland High School.

We are

We are

We are

The Seniors, Class of 2020.

- Gabrielle Bryant, Veronica Mack, Abigail Pittman
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