Every high school graduation season is special, but the Class of 2021 deserves unique recognition.
About two-thirds of the way through their junior years in March 2020, the world was turned upside down by the pandemic, relegating them to home learning and canceling every single event in what should have been a special time in their lives. The return to school in the fall continued in the same fashion for most in public schools with a brief return to school before being relegated to home school learning again for six weeks to close out the school year. When the calendar flipped to 2021, life began trending toward normalcy with the return of sports, fine arts events and more. Students in private schools have largely been in school, but there have been pandemic-associated challenges for them as well.
As all graduates walk across the stage this spring, life is continuing to head in the right direction. However, it’s impossible to not think of this year’s graduates without reflecting on what they have lost over the last 15 months. It’s tremendously significant to them in their young lives and for their parents.
Graduation always represents a culmination, an achievement worthy of celebrating. This year has an entirely different feel to it altogether, however. This Class of 2021 has endured more trials and tribulations in the last 15 months than is fair. Of course, life is not always fair, but the idea usually is for these young adults to experience these sorts of unexpected trials and tribulations in adulthood rather than during their senior year. For these students, there has been a lot of pivoting, resilience and perseverance. In many cases, the youth of today have been shining beacons of how to cope with the unfortunate realities of life at times.
What’s been endured is unfair, but it’s a life lesson for these young adults. There are inevitable stumbles and unexpected obstacles to overcome in life. How you get up and how you rebound is the true measure of a person’s integrity, worth and grit. These graduates have been a model for how to handle adversity. They have shown at a young age a resilience many adults have struggled with over the last 15 months.
Though their senior years have surely not played out as they hoped, an argument could be made these graduates are better prepared for life as a result of the hardships they have faced. Sure, they have missed making memories with friends at school-organized events, but they have also gained a gift along the way. The perspective to never take anything for granted because life can change in an instant. They realized that last spring and have been adjusting and pivoting ever since. We salute them and wish them the best moving forward as they write their individual stories.