CALVERT CITY — The Calvert Drive-In may not yet be open for business, but the big screen lit up Thursday night, with a few dozen vehicles in attendance for a debut far more personal than the latest blockbuster.
The feature? A socially-distant graduation ceremony for four drug court participants from Marshall and Calloway counties.
In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Circuit Judge Jamie Jameson wanted a creative way to celebrate the success of graduates.
So after the sun set Thursday, family, friends and officials from both counties tuned their radio dials as the big screen showed pre-recorded clips from the graduates and family members, before each graduate turned to face the live camera and Jameson congratulated them on their completion.
Graduate Kaci Stubblefield said Thursday night that she considered her graduation “just the beginning.”
Stubblefield said the program, which gives some drug defendants an opportunity to avoid criminal convictions, helped her to mature and gave her tools and strategies she’ll always be grateful for.
“I’m proud to say I’m proud of myself for once,” Stubblefield said.
As for seeing herself on the big screen, she laughed.
“This is big. I wasn’t expecting any of this.”
Jameson said Friday that the graduates “really enjoyed” the ceremony.
“We got several positive messages from them saying it was the best graduation service they’d ever been to,” the judge said.
Jameson credited Jeannie Carson, who coordinates recovery services for the drug court program, with the idea to use the drive-in.
“It was neat seeing up (on the big screen),” Jameson said, adding that he wouldn’t be opposed to hosting such a ceremony again if restrictions are still in place in winter time.
“It was a good way to do it and still comply with our social distancing requirements,” Jameson said.
Jameson called drug court “a very positive thing to be a part of,” and said he’s working to try to get an in-patient treatment center for drug treatment in the 42nd Circuit.
“We have a massive need,” he said.