Senior Night moved up after Lordstown GM families forced to relocate sooner than expected

Posted at 12:59 PM, Jan 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-17 18:21:57-05

LORDSTOWN — A goodbye to the Lordstown General Motors plant meant some seniors hugged it out for the last time and said goodbye to their classmates at Senior Night Thursday.

The event was moved up nearly two months after some families impacted by the plant closure were forced to transfer in January.

Nearly one-fifth of the student population is impacted by the closure, and several of them are seniors. Superintendent Terry Armstrong said it was a somber celebration.

"It takes on a different flavor, because of the uncertainty. Some of them knowing they’re moving. Some of them not knowing when the rest of the family is moving with them. Some of them still waiting to know if they got a transfer," Armstrong said.

Senior Kaylynn Higinbotham said playing basketball is what's kept her stress down, and saying her goodbyes to the girls will be tough.

"You go there, and you forget about everything else going on in the world. Your only focus is playing basketball," Higinbotham said.

Her dad was laid off after the final shift cut, and her family is relocating to Spring Hill, Tennessee, in February.

Dribbling the ball down the court, she can't help but bounce ideas in her head as she was just accepted to Youngstown State University.

"Tennessee has been slammed into my head. Now, I think I’ve made peace with it. But I don’t know. I don’t really want to leave," Higinbotham said.

Not wanting to be that far away from her family, she is considering skipping college altogether and finding a job.

Lexie Phillips decided to stay to finish out her senior year and attend Akron State University after receiving several academic scholarships.

"That’s like my first-time leaving home really. I would be all by myself. Even finishing high school by myself is kind of a weird thought," Phillips said.

Senior Night was one of the last times the girls' families are together before heading south.

Dozens of other families are in similar situations, leaving Phillips to worry what the schools will look like in the fall.

"They are going to be empty. Nobody is going to be here. Everybody is leaving," she said.

Senior Night is Thursday at 6:45 p.m. inside the Lordstown High School gym.