The Community Connection
Don’t overlook the remarkable class of 2021
The high school graduating class of 2020 got a tremendous amount of attention and an outpouring of love in response to the plight its members had to endure.
There is no denying that the powerful reaction from our communities was justified. These students’ saw their senior year end abruptly in midMarch due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The cherished traditions that go with the final months of high school — prom, graduation, awards ceremonies — were obliterated. Sports seasons were cut short. School musicals went unperformed, and concerts were either canceled or replaced with virtual alternatives.
In response, many people found ways to pay tribute to the class while following the rules of social distancing. Nothing could eliminate the seniors’ feelings of loss, but the overwhelming show of love softened the blow.
Now it’s time for the class of 2021 to graduate, and these seniors deserve just as spirited a tribute as their predecessors received.
It’s true that many schools were able to bring back — at least in some form — things like prom and in-person graduation ceremonies this year. That’s great news, but it hardly erases the difficulties these students have had to endure for the last 14 months.
To begin with, these students were juniors when the pandemic struck with full force and school buildings had to close. Many of the spring school activities that seniors cherish involve juniors as well.
Remember too that the junior year is crucial for college-bound students. It’s when many of them take college entrance exams and Advanced Placement tests. Their junioryear grades often play a significant role in college admissions decisions. And it’s a time when many start to get serious about considering which college they’d like to attend.
Due to the pandemic, standardized tests were canceled, rescheduled, and canceled again. College visits became an impossibility. And the start of this school year was shrouded in uncertainty. Would students be able to attend in-person full-time, part-time or not at all? What activities would be allowed, and in what form? In many instances the answers to those questions changed as the year went along.
In some districts students never even saw the inside of their school building all year. And even in districts that offered the most opportunities for in-person learning, there was always uncertainty. At any moment there could be temporary building closures due to COVID cases.
Finishing one’s high school career is challenging even under ordinary circumstances. What this year’s seniors faced was infinitely more difficult.
This was not the senior year any of them imagined they would have as they looked forward to it throughout their school career. Yet they endured, adjusting to the changes and making the best of the situations in which they found themselves.
Our hope for this year’s seniors is that they learn from these difficult experiences. They’ve been asked to develop a kind of resilience that wouldn’t ordinarily be expected in people so young.
It’s a quality that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. We pray that neither they nor the rest of us have to endure anything so extreme again, but there will always be challenges of some sort. This group should be wellequipped to handle just about anything that comes its way.
We salute the class of
2021 for quietly persevering amid so many difficulties. We wish them and the rest of the students in our communities an enjoyable, productive summer with hopes of a return to normal in education this fall.