Opinion: Congratulations to all the seniors in the four states area as we move into the final days of classes and toward the eventual graduation dates. As we look around the United States and the world, we all realize what a hardship this year has been. It’s supposed to be your last year of high school when you make your final class rounds, finish out your required credits, laugh with friends and make memories, go to dances, ballgames, and…yes, most likely go to parties. All those senior joys have been interrupted. COVID-19 rushed into the final months of your senior year and crashed all the parties. It crashed your proms, get-togethers, basketball games, baseball games, senior walks, trips, and has even pushed graduation and prom clear into July for many schools.
As bad as it all sounds, there is a silver lining though! Most of the school districts will have a prom and graduation. They may have these traditional events pushed back to July, but they will have them. You will dance with your sweetheart or prom date one last time as a high school student, you’ll laugh with your friends, and you’ll put that cap and gown on and walk across that stage on your final high school moments. Things will be better.
Ultimately, you are to be commended though and congratulated. You have risen to your first challenge as young adults and met it head-on. You met it strong, you met it with courage, and you met it by acting in the best interest of others. You sheltered in place, or kept a low profile and out of public eye not for yourself, but for you family and friends. You kept grandparents safe with your actions. You kept parents safe with your actions and you kept your siblings safe with your actions. By staying home, conducting classes from the kitchen counter, your bedroom, a computer room, and around the home, you acted in the interest of your fellow man. You, and your classmates across the country have risen, grown, and faced a pandemic as one united front. Like generations before that have sacrificed, you also sacrificed. From cutbacks of time with your friends, to cutbacks in your high school part-time income, you have given. Your actions have not gone unnoticed. You have also not traveled these new roads alone. From the districts of Texarkana to Atlanta to Shreveport and beyond, you have become one united class. You are no longer Razorbacks, Bears, Titans, Tigers, Dragons, Pirates, Warriors, Rabbits, or any other mascot. You are no longer tied simply to your small class in a small district or your large class in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, or beyond. No, you are now tied to every class across the nation. You are the Pandemic Class of 2020. You have grown, matured, and given so that others would be safe and that makes you more than simply a high school student…that makes you an adult.
When you do finally walk across that stage, remember you are not walking alone. The eyes of the nation are upon you as the first united high school class. You all faced the same threats, the same challenges, and the same crisis as one. No, you are not simply a graduate of your school, you are a graduate of a new and brave generation. Because of this unity, these ties, this connection you have across our country, you will never be the same. A popular hashtag on social media sums it up best “#AllInThisTogether.” We look forward to seeing the great things the Pandemic Class of 2020 has yet to accomplish. Congratulations and thank you for meeting this crisis with character and dignity that is becoming of the young adults you all are now.