Many of us were looking forward to graduations this spring. We had plans to attend commencement ceremonies and host large celebrations with our family and friends. Graduation is a rite of passage and a major milestone for students and parents alike.
As we all know, this spring has turned out different. No one would have imagined when we began 2020 that we would be dealing with a pandemic. We now find ourselves doing life differently and coming up with creative ways to do things we once took for granted, like graduation ceremonies.
For many families such as mine, the inability to hold traditional graduation ceremonies has been felt very personally. We don’t just have one graduate in our house this year – we have two. Our youngest daughter is a senior at Newark High School and our middle daughter is a senior at The Ohio State University. Since they were born, I have looked forward to seeing my girls at their graduations. However, this year we have to celebrate “virtually” and things just don’t seem the same. My daughters, and all other graduates this year, may never have the send-off we envisioned.
To the Class of 2020, your graduation ceremony may look different than what we are accustomed to, but nothing can diminish your accomplishments this year. You should be celebrated more than ever and recognized for your hard work, dedication and perseverance.
You have endured unique circumstances that none of us would have imagined when the school year began. You have adjusted to remote learning, studied and completed assignments in new ways. You have had to forego the normal end of year traditions, spring sports, academic awards, proms and bonding with your classmates that is typical in one’s senior year.
Since I understand and sympathize how this year has been different for both you and your family, I also want to recognize your parents and guardians. They deserve thanks for being there for you through good times and bad. They have encouraged you, helped with homework, moved you out of college dorms and cheered you on this spring when deep inside they too were grieving your loss and the altered plans of such an important and iconic moment in your life.
I'd also like to thank the teachers and school administrators for your investment, continued support and efforts to help get our kids across the finish line during this challenging time. Your work is invaluable.
Class of 2020, I am incredibly humbled and impressed by the strength and resilience you have shown in the face of adversity. I am optimistic that brighter days are ahead and that you will take this experience and turn it into triumph as our state’s next generation of leaders. Congratulations on your graduation. I wish you outstanding success in the future, and I can’t wait to see how you use this experience to better our world!