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Graduates look to the future

Graduates look to the future Graduates look to the future

“It sucked a lot.”

Those were the words of Evelyn Fryza of the Gilman High School Class of 2020 capturing the impact the COVID-19 school closures had on the end of her class’s time in high school.

That sentiment could be equally shared by all area graduates this spring. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in disruption of plans, not only for businesses and individuals, but for schools and institutions. It upended the traditions that mark the end of the school year, from the daily countdown until graduation day, to the tear-filled hugs in the senior hallways as lockers were cleared out and the finality of the end of a long journey became real.

Parents, school officials and community members have gone above and beyond in seeking to make this year’s high school graduates feel they have not been forgotten. Graduating high school still remains a momentous step in the life of a young person. It is an important transition, not only for the young people involved, but for their families and those in their surrounding community.

For some it is the step toward independence and adult responsibilities as they enter the workforce or military. Others are heading off to technical colleges, apprenticing to learn a trade, or have years more education as they pursue a profession.

Wherever they end up, their foundation of learning was shaped by their experiences in elementary, middle and high school. Their sense of responsibility, fairness and their choices for friends were shaped in the school environment.

A strong foundation serves as a base for all future achievements. A well-laid foundation can withstand storms, floods and all manner of weather as it keeps all that has been built on it safe and secure.

The graduates of the Class of 2020 have had their foundations tested more than most classes in recent memory. As a whole they are still very fortunate. Despite lingering wars and military actions that place American servicemen and women in harm’s way around the would, modern graduates do not face large scale military action that was a reality for their grandparents and great grandparents. The economy, although taking a hit due to mandated COVID-19 related shut-downs, remains fundamentally strong with long-term job prospects for graduates remaining positive — something that wasn’t so certain within recent memories.

There is no doubt that the Class of 2020 will be impacted by the strange twist that ended their high school careers. For some, it will drive home the lesson of seizing opportunities when they arise. For others, it may reinforce the need to live in the moment and react to the world as it is, rather than how they wish it would be.

However they are impacted, the graduates of the Class of 2020 will face challenges and be called on to make serious choices. It is reassuring that regardless of where life takes them, their foundations will remain strong.

Window paint reads “COVID sucks!” in this vehicle in the Medford Class of 2020 parade held Friday.