There were no speeches.

No walking across the stage.

No handshakes.

No caps thrown into the air with joy.

There were, however, still diplomas, smiles and a few tears.

It was a most unusual way to celebrate the end of the school year.

Madison Central and Madison Southern high schools both played host to drive-thru graduation events on Wednesday.

Students and their parents were welcomed back onto campus to collect their diplomas and awards. The ceremonies were the only way the schools could honor the Class of 2020 with the current public health regulations brought on by the COVID-19 crisis.

It was a special event, but Madison County Public School officials are hoping they will have the opportunity to have a more traditional in-person ceremony some time in the coming months.

"That's what our kids deserve," Madison Central Principal Brandon Fritz said. "They met the requirements to graduate, and every other class for the past 81 years has had an in-person graduation ceremony. These kids deserve that too. It's very important for us to do everything we can to give them that opportunity."

Hundreds of cars streamed through the campus of both schools on Wednesday. Southern held its event from 1 to 5 p.m., while Central's parade began at 7 p.m.

At the end of each parade, the students were given their diplomas.

"It was good to see our kids and be able to congratulate them in person," Southern Principal Brandon Watkins said. "We are still hoping to be able to hold a smaller, in-person ceremony later in July to give these seniors an opportunity to take pictures and video these important memorable moments. The Class of 2020 is a wonderful group of kids and I'm so proud of how they have handled the situation."

Cars drove through the bus lane in front of Madison Southern on Wednesday afternoon and were handed their diplomas, a yard sign featuring their name and awards, along with a goodie bag and a special-designed bottle of Ale-8-one.

Teachers and staff members also tossed confetti and shot silly string at the graduates.

Families of the Class of 2020 were lined up outside the entrance to Madison Central long before the event was supposed to begin. Officials starting letting cars into the parking lot at about 6:30 p.m. The parade lasted more than two hours.

As cars entered the school's parking lot, they went under a huge American flag hanging from the ladder of a firetruck. The parade route went through the back lot of the school, then back out through the bus lane.

Almost 400 graduates picked up their diplomas and a food drive hosted by the senior class collected more than 2,000 items.

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