Senior years and the ensuing graduations are the stuff of lifetime memories. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has shattered those traditional experiences and memories.
Graduations have been postponed. Some traditional graduations have been replaced with video graduations.
Still, we see schools finding different ways to honor their graduates, and we see graduating seniors making the most of their year-end experiences.
Blair Oaks High School held a parade Sunday for its 104 graduating seniors and a special graduation for two graduates who are entering the military.
After the ceremony, Superintendent Jim Jones said there's no playbook for dealing with graduation amid the pandemic, but the school wanted to do what it could to honor its graduates.
One way was to hold a senior parade Sunday afternoon. Seniors formed a parade of cars and took an approximate two-hour tour through the four small communities served by the district. Many people along the route came out into their yards to wave and congratulate them, some holding signs for specific graduates.
"It's a great opportunity not only for our seniors today, but a great opportunity for our community to say 'thank you' to them," Jones said.
Meanwhile, Calvary Lutheran High School held an in-person graduation with modifications. Among other things, class members walked on stage to get their diplomas, but they didn't do traditional handshakes with school administrators. And the diplomas weren't handed to the graduates. They were placed on a table for the graduates to pick up themselves.
Valedictorian Sarah Johnson described the class as "the class of COVID-19," telling the crowd that the school ending wasn't what anyone expected.
"We had so many things that were supposed to create lifetime memories ripped away from us," she said. "No senior prom, no spring sports seasons or activities" and a modified graduation. "But we made it. Not the way we wanted to, but we did."
We commend our area graduates for learning to adapt to distance learning and to find ways to still connect with their classmates amid quarantines and stay-at-home orders. We also commend everyone involved with area schools for finding ways to honor their graduates, while still working to keep everyone safe.