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A very different year for graduates

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

And then things start to happen,

don’t worry. Don’t stew.

Just go right along.

You’ll start happening too.

— Dr. Seuss

 

Making the most of a tough situation sounds fine in the abstract, but when life becomes so different that it’s unrecognizable, that’s not such a simple thing to do. When this year’s graduates entered their last semester of their last year of school, wherever they were, they had every reason to expect that much of what had led them to this moment would go according to plan. Most of the hard work was likely accomplished to take them to graduation at the end of the school year.

Then came March, the global pandemic and the shutdown of Region One and other schools from March 16 on. At the time that schools closed, it would have been only the most unusually perceptive and bright people who would have known they would remain closed for the rest of the school year. The new academic system became based in online learning, and the Zoom classroom. This challenge was hard for all involved, but for those aiming for graduation and planning their next steps in life, it must have been hardest of all.

They couldn’t do the face-to-face meetings with teachers, advisers and counselors who would under normal conditions help them with decisions about their after-graduation lives. And while they could easily keep in touch with their friends through online communication, whatever form that took, even that interaction wasn’t quite the same, surely. They didn’t have the opportunity to have the camaraderie of those last games if they played sports, that last concert if they played music. But for those who are in these 2020 graduating classes, there will be an added strength they’ve had to develop from dealing with the unexpected and the unknown in very real ways. This will be a trait they’ll take forward to next year and that will be to their benefit if they’ve learned how to manage it all.

This is to wish for them increasingly interesting lives, and a hope that they will have learned what they care about most when much is taken away. If COVID-19 has done anything, it’s forcing us all to focus and prioritize exactly what is most important in life for each of us, and let the other things go that may have worried us more before a disease took over human life so completely.

It’s not over yet, and the coronavirus will surely continue to affect the graduates’ plans for whatever they had set for next year, and perhaps the year after that, depending on the scientific community’s success in finding solid treatment or a vaccine. But other generations have had such obstacles placed in their way, and this generation will find their own ways of coping and finding meaning in what they choose to do next. They should know that they have the full support of their parents, teachers and other adults in their lives as they move forward and take on the task of building a better world.

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