The coronavirus has disrupted so many of our lives as we have undertaken drastic measures to help stem the spread of contagion. While about 95,000 souls have been lost thus far in the United States, the positive news is that death rate has slowly, but steadily dropped since around mid-April.
It appears that the measures have been working, but we must also acknowledge the cost the virus and the response has had on everyday lives. Millions of jobs have been lost and countless lives have been disrupted as we adjusted to do our parts. One segment of our population that has been affected more than most are our graduating high school and college seniors.
The coronavirus transformed what would’ve been a joyous closure of one chapter of school seniors’ lives into months of uncertainty and uncomfortable adjustments. Despite the unpleasantness of losing last proms, sports seasons and more, there are a few silver linings for new graduates as they prepare to embark on a new chapter of their lives.
First, the pandemic and our response to it must show to graduates that adults don’t necessarily have all the answers. Who knows what might’ve happened if our leaders had taken the virus more seriously in the crucial early months of the disease? Learn from mistakes — yours and those of others — and use that knowledge to plot your course through life. Know that your knowledge and opinions are as valuable as others and be forthright in expressing yourselves.
Second, we can only imagine how difficult it was to transition from traditional classrooms to learning remotely from home. The upside is that the adjustment will likely be similar to going to college. At college, there’s no one to force students to attend classes or turn in assignments. We imagine that’s pretty similar to learning at home without a regular schedule — except there won’t necessarily be parents overseeing you at college.
Third, while graduating seniors have missed many opportunities in the later part of the school year, we have to give massive kudos to the teachers, administrators, parents and students who helped provide some closure with special graduation ceremonies adapted for social distancing and other precautions. Schools have been able to turn previously mundane events — like picking up graduation garb — into final chances to show graduates that they’re appreciated and that their time and effort weren’t for naught.
It’s not the same as gathering the entire family together in an arena to see loved ones walk in their caps and gowns, but we appreciate the ingenuity and compassion to putting at least a little pomp in this most unusual of circumstances.
Congratulations, students of the Class of 2020! Our hopes and dreams go with you as you blaze a trail into the future.