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Forged in the fire of COVID-19

High school graduation has always been a defining moment. The class of 2020, these large groups of teenagers, many of whom have been together since pre-K, will scatter. After getting their diplomas, flipping those tassels and throwing their caps in the air, they will go off in many different directions. This defining moment has always been a point of pride with parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family in attendance. There have always been balloons and signs and shouts of encouragement from the stands – no matter how hard those in charge try to discourage them. Some kids are dignified during the marching and speeches. Nearly all wear big grins but there are always a few comedians in the crowd who keep things interesting. For many it is their last chance to just be a kid and cavort with other kids. After leaving high school, life comes at most seniors fast. Graduation will be different this year. Some seniors will graduate on video. Some will have to wait a month or more to find out if they will have a ceremony at all and what that ceremony may look like. Others will take part in a ceremony in an empty stadium or building without family and friends in attendance. They will be seated much farther apart than usual and they won’t have their individual cheering sections there to cheer them on. This is just the crowning disappointment of a senior year cut nine weeks short. There have been no proms and no military balls. Baccalaureate assemblies and honors night observances had to be canceled. Athletic seasons and outstanding individual athletic careers ended abruptly. Team records along with collective and individual stats will always carry an asterisk. All this because of a foreign virus they had no control over. It is, indeed, a sad state of affairs. On the subject of raising and teaching children, Mother Teresa said, ‘Children are like kites: you will teach them to fly but they will not fly your flight. You will teach them to dream but they will not dream of your dream. You will teach them to live but they will not live your life. But in every flight, in every dream and in every life the mark of the teaching received will remain forever.’ The Class of 2020 has been taught well. They have seen advancements in technology never dreamed of by their parents and grandparents. The phones they are tethered to at all hours carry more processing power than the computers they learned keyboarding on just a few shorts years ago when they were in primary school. They have overcome academic hurdles and they have mastered life lessons, particularly in the last nine week. These seniors will move on to college, technical school, the military or the workplace better prepared due to the hardships COVID-19 stacked on their plates. They will succeed and exceed your expectations in doing it. They have been forged in the fire and are stronger for the experience.

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