From Monticello to St. Michael-Albertville, Buffalo to Rogers and points in between, members of our community joined the famed #Classof2021 this week.
Oh, sure, ceremonies for some haven’t quite been held. But most senior students are done-zo. Finished. Outta there.
And, to quote an oft-used song lyric – what a long, strange, trip it has been.
My dear Class of 2021, you will forever be known as COVID Kids. And that sucks. You deserve more. A better moniker. The People of Perseverance. The Bounce Back Bunch. The Rebound Ruffians. Or something cooler than any of those things.
I’m in my 40s. Cool I am not.
Anyway, have we asked more of any graduating class than this one? First, your junior year was unceremoniously tossed in the toilet. Sports and arts were ground to a halt first. Then we sent you home, never to return. Laptops became lifelines. Phones were actual learning tools. Drive by meals at the local elementary school were a chance to see school staff again. And “6 Feet Apart” became a country smash.
When you look back on that spring of your Junior year, you have to just laugh at it. Because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.
And then, after a somewhat OK summer – baseball and softball players got to swing into things again (soccer players didn’t) – where lakes and beaches and parks became our official gathering spaces – we went back to school.
And the chaos started all over again. From “face-to-face” classes to distance learning to whatever-the-heck “hybrid learning” was, everything that looked great over the summer had disappeared by Thanksgiving, and we were learning from our kitchen tables, bedrooms and living rooms all over again.
Google Meets. FlipGrid. Student/ParentVue. Good grief.
Was this really to be our fate? Were we really going to see another graduating class celebrate from their cars or walk-through lines in parking lots outside of the school they only partially liked anyway?
Nope. Not this time.
The adults got their “stuff” together and got rolling with the vaccine. By March, most of your teachers were dosed, the process of which allowed many of us to get back into our lockers and desks for the first time in weeks and paved the way for a relatively “normal” end to a school year that was anything but normal.
Sports resumed. Section titles were one. State championships (by a diver??). One Act awards. Academic achievement. All of the stuff high school is supposed to be returned, bit by bit.
But there are the “other things” this past 18 months has brought all of you. Social justice and law enforcement support. The election. The school budget – which impacted so many of our friends and mentors. And the loss of many events that weren’t school related – like concerts, celebrations, movies and the other things we did for … you know … fun.
And here we are.
Friday night, in the heat, under the lights at stadiums like STMA and Monticell0 – you took your bow. And it is, my friend, well-deserved. For all of the academic “rigors” that come with being a successful high school student, you handled the other bag of junk that the last two years of your careers held in store and passed the test. Among you are Ivy League scholars and future members of our military and armed forces. There are people who will pursue vocations at a seminary or convent. There are others who are setting out to backpack Europe or join the workforce. Such as it is, almost every year.
But Class of ’21, this has not been every year. This has been – ugh – an “unprecedented year.” And you’ve made it. Somehow, that cliche is not so cliche this time around.
Congratulations. From all of us. Breathe. Get some sleep. Enjoy life. And bask in this one, Covid Kids. You deserve it.