The class of 2020 won’t enjoy the pivotal milestones, the graduation traditions, past classes have enjoyed. Our hearts go out to all of you.
There will be few if any yearbook signings. There was no chance to feel the elation of putting that last final exam to bed and look forward to the future. And this weekend, there will be no graduation ceremony — at least not the kind we know.
This is the first curbside commencement in history. In the COVID-19 era, Your car pulls up to a makeshift platform. The principal hands you a diploma (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) and you drive away. None of the surge of exhilaration that comes from crossing the stage in front of classmates and proud family members. Not this year.
But when the ceremony takes place, it is still a celebration. It is a celebration of making it through the worst year of your lives with grace, extraordinary fortitude and a whole lot of heart.
Since schools shut down in March, communities in Greene and Columbia counties have shown their support for the graduates with creatively mounted, socially distanced car parades, electronic roadside signs naming the graduates, billboards congratulating the class of 2020 placed along highways and signs in the yards of homes in every town and village.
If the graduates learned one lesson in 2020, it is that life can change at a moment’s notice and that change is not always good. Stay flexible and be ready for anything. These students did something we thought was unimaginable just 12 months ago. They finished high school under conditions that prevented them from entering their school buildings.
We leave with these thoughts. The class of 2020 was robbed of the wonderful rites of passage other classes took for granted. As one phase of life ends, know that better days lie ahead. In the absence of traditional school, you used your skills to help others, by volunteering or giving pleasure through art or music or a dozen different ways. These kids have been through a lot and they deserve to be happy.
Finally, to the class of 2020 in the Twin Counties and everywhere else, your communities stand with you.