Ending my junior year sitting on my living room couch is rather disappointing, but I can only imagine how terrible and disappointing it must be for our senior class to graduate from high school without the traditional celebrations. Now I usually write with optimism and try to help you see the world as a glass half full, but I also understand that not everything is rainbows and sunshine, and the Class of 2020 is sure to agree.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of students look forward to their graduation, the moment before they begin their next phase of life as adults in the real world. The big transition from a classroom full of old friends to a new, larger room filled with strangers, whether that be another classroom or at a job in the workforce. But even such a stressful and melancholic moment becomes a cheerful time to recall high school memories, from studying late at night worried about an exam to rooting for your team at a football game, celebrating the hard work it took to make it through.
But this time it’s different. This time it won’t be the same; the parties, the gatherings, the banquets, ceremonies, prom— all canceled. Fortunately, some will still have some sort of ceremony, but sitting six feet apart, no handshakes, no hugs, no contact at all. And that’s a huge disappointment, not just for you, but your friends and family as well! It’s not going to be the same experience you deserve, the experience you’ve been waiting for since you became “too old” for nap time. The worst part is that you are expecting this disappointment, because you know there’s nothing you can do about it. Sure you feel ready for it now, but when you receive your diploma in the mail rather than on stage, or when your classmates cheer through your computer screen rather than at the stadium, it won’t feel right. It isn’t right… and I’m sorry.
I’m sorry it was you who had your special moment ruined, and I’m sorry you won’t get it back. I’m sorry that no matter what ideas we come up with, nothing will replace the graduation you deserve. I’m sorry that my sorry is not enough to make it right, but I want you to know that I, and everyone else, care enough to say it and at least try to make it somewhat better. I don’t know how long this pandemic will continue to defer and wreck our plans, but soon we’ll be back out there, and you will take on your new role in the world. So I wish you the best as you take on this (even more) difficult task, and encourage you to keep working hard to make it through. You did it once, and you will do it again, because you are strong. Good luck, Class of 2020.