Watch CBS News

Teen's emotional drive-thru graduation celebration goes viral

"Sunday Morning" salutes the Class of 2020
"Sunday Morning" salutes the Class of 2020 07:35

With his graduation cap on his head, his diploma in his hands and tears streaming down his face, a Nashville teen slowly made his way through Pearl-Cohn High School's drive-thru graduation on Tuesday, elatedly shouting at former teachers as he passed by them.

"Dean Jordan, I graduated!" video shows Dontrail Spencer shouting from his car, waving his newly-received high school diploma.

"I'm proud of you Dontrail! Love you, man!" a school staff member shouted to him as he passed.

"I'll always see you Ms. Smith. Love you too," Spencer said back, tears still falling from his eyes.

In the wake of coronavirus, Pearl-Cohn High School arranged for students to receive their diplomas from their cars. Video of Spencer's emotional reaction to reaching this milestone went viral on Facebook, seen by millions.

Rasheedat Fetuga, president of Gideon's Army, posted the video, according to CBS affiliate WTVF-TV. Gideon's Army is an organization that works to keep kids off of the streets, and Fetuga worked with Spencer throughout his high school career.

"When our children graduate it means so much," the caption of Fetuga's video reads. "They have fought through a system set against them. And won."

My babies graduated!!! When our children graduate it means so much. They have fought through a system set against them. And won. We did this together— Dontrail, his mother, teachers, and Gideon's Army. Please follow Gideon’s Army to support our mission to save our children. ❤️ People have asked: Cashapp $RasheedatAFetuga to donate directly to his future.

Posted by Rasheedat Rah Frizzy Fetuga on Tuesday, May 19, 2020

In an interview with WTVF, Spencer credited the organization with helping him get to graduation. "I could've been like any other kid on the streets," he said.

Spencer's mom, Tamika Hawkins, said she was in the back seat of the car during the drive-thru ceremony, sobbing. 

At one point in the video, Spencer is seen sticking his head out of the car's sunroof, excitedly shouting to people on the sidelines of the graduation procession. "So proud of you!" one person yells to the teen.

"Proud of you, man!" a uniformed officer said as the car passes. 

At one point, Spencer said to stop the car, then hops out to give someone a hug. All one minute and 22 seconds of the video are filled with his happy tears — the excitement over his accomplishment almost palpable. 

"It was just an emotional day for me, to see myself graduate ... I never thought I'd see myself in a cap and gown with a big diploma in my hand," Spencer told WTVF. "It was emotional. I didn't know what to say. I was speechless. All I could do was shed tears of joy, that was all I did."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.