The Class of 2020 hasn’t exactly been the luckiest class in the history of the American high school system.
Just as they were nearing the end of their senior year, getting ready for prom, and their senior class parties, and their graduation ceremony, the coronavirus pandemic hit, classes in most high schools across the country were abruptly cancelled, social distancing and limitations on congregation were imposed, and everything had to happen remotely — which isn’t exactly the ideal setting for your last hurrah with your high school chums and besties.
In Stonington, as in many U.S. cities and towns, the community has rallied behind the Class of 2020 and tried to give them a memorable graduation notwithstanding all of the limitations. In the downtown area, small posters of the members of the graduating class have been put up on light posts and telephone poles to recognize their achievement. Stores are displaying signs to congratulate the seniors, and the town organized a parade in which the seniors rode, individually, in back of open-air cars while they were cheered on along the parade route by members of the community — all of whom maintained appropriate social distancing, of course.
High school wasn’t the favorite time of my life, and I didn’t feel like high school graduation was a particularly big deal. At the same time, I enjoyed the graduation parties and senior prom and the graduation ceremony itself. For me, at least, it gave a sense of closure of one chapter in my life and the message that it was time to move on to college, and beyond. Thinking about it now, with the knowledge of what has happened to the Class of 2020 in mind, I think I probably would have missed the whole process if I hadn’t experienced it.
I’ve written before about doing what we can to help people whose lives have been turned upside-down by COVID-19 to make up for the loss and disruption — by frequenting restaurants, giving very generous tips, and so on. The same goes for the Class of 2020, and it’s nice to see that communities like Stonington, and other communities across the country, are doing special things to recognize the unique impact the Class of 2020 has sustained. If you know of a 2020 graduate, give them an especially hearty congratulations, will you? And when the Class of 2020 gathers for their 10th, or 25th, or 50th reunion, we can hope that they’ll have some positive memories about parades, and signs, and special recognitions to recall.