Napoleon Hill once wrote, “Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat.” That came to mind this week with how a couple schools handled graduation efforts. Over the last two months, schools across the country have been forced to scrap traditional graduation plans in favor of other less formal celebrations.
In the case of Worcester Preparatory School and Stephen Decatur High Schools, officials at each school masterfully pivoted to new and exciting ways to recognize their graduates. Worcester Prep last Thursday hosted a festive and celebratory “drive thru” event where seniors and their families were able to drive through the school’s long parking lot to applause and best wishes from teachers, administrators and others. Former educators who were now retired or in other fields came back to celebrate the students. Each graduate received a goodie bag from school leaders ahead of a diploma ceremony next month. Many laughs and tears were shed – emotions often seen at more formal graduation exercises.
On Wednesday, Stephen Decatur High School held its Boardwalk procession with graduates being driven down the boards by their parents or friends and celebrated as well. It was a memorable evening for these young adults. The atmosphere along the Boardwalk was one nobody in attendance will ever forget. At the end of the two-mile procession from north to south, the students received their diplomas under the Boardwalk Arch from the principal and superintendent. It was a wonderful display of school and community pride.
At each graduation event, many folks on hand remarked how these less formal, celebratory events should become a new staple of graduation season. I agree. There’s not been a lot of positives to come from the last 10 weeks of quarantine, but these events are shining examples of what can happen when ingenuity and creativity partner with meaningful and sincere intentions.
Congratulations to all the graduates as well as those who worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to provide these memorable occasions.
xAfter observing the metropolitan news outlets as well as CNN paint Ocean City as packed for the holiday weekend, I took a walk around Ocean City’s beach, downtown area and Boardwalk between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Memorial Day. Due to the cooler, cloudy weather conditions, it was not a beach day, but the Boardwalk saw what I would call light crowds at this time. It was nothing like what would be expected for Memorial Day weekend. Other than observe, my intent was to take pictures with my phone that were intentionally amateur to show the crowds were not as huge as being reported by national media. The photos are on our Facebook page if you want to check them out.
After speaking with several business owners and employees Monday working their operations to keep costs down, the general sentiment seemed to be it was a quiet weekend with one business owner saying sales represented about half of what they would expect on a normal Memorial Day weekend and another reporting it’s about one-third of last year’s numbers. From their vantage points, they all agreed the crowds were larger the first weekend after restrictions than last weekend. From a hotel perspective, last weekend was a dud with most operators reporting less than half full occupancies.
While I was on the Boardwalk Memorial Day, about half the people I saw were sporting masks while the others seemed to have one around their neck or nearby in case they went into a store. Some people were clearly intent on physical distancing, while others were not concerned at all when it came to standing in lines and walking through more congested areas. The Boardwalk without the amusements and the arcades continues to be an odd sight. It’s just not the same experience and felt in many ways like an offseason weekend day. The familiar sounds of screams from the amusements, music from the rides and random balloon pops from the games were surely missed.
Complicating last weekend was the fact Memorial Day fell one week earlier this year. In addition, the cool and wet weather forecast deterred many plans leading up to the weekend. Additionally, there was the economic unknowns that come with the gradual reopening from the COVID-19 economic shutdown. Will people be anxious to get out of the house and go on vacation? Will people want to be cautious at first? Has the economic shutdown eliminated disposable income for traveling?
By and large, I am hearing it’s a mix, but there are plenty of examples of a desire to get out and about and help the economy. The people who live here as well as those who have been coming to Ocean City have been willing to spend their money, according to many. A handful of stories have been relayed of extreme generosity. One restaurant owner said an employee handling a carryout order totaling $115 last weekend received an extra $100 bill as a tip. Another employee shared with me a story of finding three $50 bills in her workplace’s tip jar at the end of her eight-hour shift. An Uber driver last weekend sent us a Facebook message asking us if we would post this, “I just wanted to thank (name deleted) for giving me a $50 tip on a $15 fare.”
These are positive stories worthy of sharing.