An open letter to the high school graduates of 2020

Dear graduating seniors:

You have been dealt a disruptive blow to your last year of high school, and the uncertainty that surrounds your graduation is compounded by an ill-defined future with an especially cloudy view of the summer and fall months to come. In the midst of this dilemma, there are several important realities that need to be said to you.

You are valued and celebrated by all of us on your graduation. As in past years, we may not be able to demonstrate our pride and joy for the person you have become and all you have accomplished. But you need to know that we, your friends and neighbors, are proud of you.

Membership in the hallmark class of 2020 will be very unique and will be with you all of your life. The class of 2020 will long be remembered as a milestone class that marked a major moment of change in the culture of our country. Because of the sacrifices that have come with that distinction the class of 2020 should always be proud and must know that we are grateful to you.

Crises like the current pandemic bring out our strengths and, unfortunately, our weaknesses. You are our future. Learn from the mistakes of those of us who precede you and do better. Develop and stand by your principles and master the art of civil discourse; define at least a part of yourself through an empathy with others; follow the old scout slogan and “be prepared.”

You must and will do better than we did because you are better prepared than we were and you are good people.

As the end of this school year was challenging, the next few years may be equally challenging. We encourage you to continue your learning and training whether that it is on-the-job, in school, in the military or on your own. Pursue your goals at their highest level.

The pandemic may change the path to achievement but it shouldn’t change your level of self-expectation. Don’t abandon your dreams, don’t compromise your goals.

The high school graduation ceremony is always a time-honored rite of passage for students but also for parents, families and close friends. For the past 18 years you have been the focus of your family’s life. It may not have always seemed that way, but it is the reality and now, you’re moving on. The ceremony that helps bring closure and focus to your school days is compromised if not missing all together.

Graduates, take a moment to say thanks to mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles. Families, give voice to your joy and say, “I’m so proud of you.” It even wouldn’t hurt to say, “I love you.” The pandemic can take away the ceremony and the party but it shouldn’t take away the family pride.

We have one last thought for everyone. The end of this academic year brings widespread unemployment and lost income. Paying the bills and providing daily meals are priorities for many of us. Thinking about future employment and education for our graduates adds to the anxious future that we all face. We have to keep the faith and stay focused.

Just as our country will find its way back to a stable economy and healthy community so we too will find our way to a prosperous and successful future for our children. They are our priority.

— An opinion of the Adams Publishing – ECM Editorial Board. Reactions welcome. Send to: editorial.board@ecm-inc.com.

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