It’s been a different school year for the graduating kids of 2020. Many will or have received diplomas through virtual settings. The anticipation of finals, the pomp and circumstance, the speeches, the comradery of the class, final hugs and goodbyes, the parties — all gone. But the memories will last a lifetime, actually, extra special memories of how you survived pandemic.
There are always memories coming at commencement ceremonies. The one the Class of 2020 at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville, SC, experienced is one of those never to forget moments. As Principal Karen Radcliffe was introducing the school’s valedictorian and salutatorian to the assembly at the school’s Swamp Fox Stadium, the sprinklers went off, drenching the students who were sitting socially distant apart across the athletic field.
Over the years, I watched kids grow up before my eyes in my role as editor and publisher of the Reveille/Between the Lakes in Seneca County, NY. I came to know and love the seniors in Piscataquis County, ME. I’ve walked with my share of children and grandchildren as they stepped from one chapter of their lives into another. And seniors around the country experienced the same milestone. By extension, new chapters abound as students “graduate” from kindergarten to primary school, primary school to middle school, middle school to high school and even post-graduate or the workforce following a college career.
In years past, I always shared some words for the graduates in the Reveille/Between the Lakes. I have a different platform these days — this blog — but the message is timeless and universal.
Expect the unexpected — as the students in South Carolina did. Embrace the challenges. Enjoy the life ahead of you!
Here’s to the Class of 2020!
You will be hearing that word many times over the next few weeks. But remember it always. You will gain something … more than just a diploma, more than just recognition for putting up with four years of high school.
You don’t realize it yet, but the lessons you learned over the years were a lot more than just “book knowledge.” You learned discipline. You learned interpersonal skills. You matured.
No, you are not just graduating from high school. You are advancing from one chapter in your life into another. In four years – four very short years – you went from an adolescent to a young man or woman, ready, willing, and able to conquer and make your mark on the world.
Just as these last four years were transitional, so, too, will be the next couple of years. Whether you continue in school or join the workforce or serve your country, change will be inevitable. Nothing ever remains the same.
We’ll offer some words of advice and encouragement on this, your big day. Dream your dreams. Follow your ambitions. Set your goals. But, above all, be true to yourself. Do the best you can … with an emphasis on the word “you.” You’ll know. You’ve always known when you gave it your all … and so did everyone else. You’ve always known when you didn’t … and so did everyone else.
Don’t try to live up to somebody else’s standards. Set your own. Don’t try to please everyone else at your own expense. Eventually you’ll regret it. Keep your faith and trust in humanity. Look for the good in people and the bright side of every calamity. All things have a purpose … you just have to look a little deeper for some.
Again, congratulations. We applaud your past achievements and we look forward to your future accomplishments. You have to believe you can be whatever you want to be. They key word there is “believe.”
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you. — Mary Tyler Moore