Wow, what a crazy, unpredictable year it has been. This two-month lockdown feels a lot longer than that, am I right? As two months turned into a year, the lockdown has affected both junior and senior year for the Class of 2021. This year’s graduating class has been separated from their friends, coaches, and teachers for over an entire school year. Learning how to navigate these new learning and teaching methods has been a significant change for teenagers, college students, and adults alike. From hybrid learning to entirely virtual, this past year has put both students and staff to the test, and you aced it! You have adjusted to a new way of life, made accommodations, and accepted a new definition of “social life”.

Finally, sitting home in our PJs for a whole day is acceptable and even responsible? Hmm, maybe I’ll miss that unexpected perk. As staying in became the new cool thing to do, you have all stayed committed to your studies. Even throughout the unknown, you have remained determined to keep on track with your workload. Watching, as the whole world was affected by the same thing, was something no one has ever been through. Being a part of a historical event wasn’t really as exciting as they made it out to be. I would’ve been okay with what I’ve read about the black plague and the Spanish flu; I don’t think we needed an example of what a pandemic is like to live through; you know what I mean?

Graduation Yard Signs

All jokes aside, we have experienced a lot of loss this year. Families have lost loved ones, jobs, and homes. Some of us have suffered mentally with the adjustment of not seeing family and friends all the time. Families have gone through the loss alone and welcomed babies alone. It has been a year were visiting our parents and grandparents wasn’t safe anymore.

However, we also had a lot of good come out of this year. Together we learned what we truly value and what was really important to us. We learned to hold our loved ones close and to appreciate the time we spend together. We got to spend more time with our children, and children enjoyed their parents. Families sat down and ate dinner together, played games together, and spent quality time as a family. Together we lived through something we could never imagine. Together, we lived through something that our children will read about in history books, and together we are taking steps to get back to “normal.”

Graduation this year should show you just how much you can overcome if you put your mind to it. As you prepare for the next step in your lives, recognize this journey has given you the knowledge, determination, and experience to make a difference in the world. From students to faculty and staff, we want to congratulate you on overcoming a challenging year and coming out on top! We wish you all the best of luck as you move forward into your next chapter.