Stuck at home, restrictions on shopping and eating, no sports, we are now almost at the midway point of the year and it seems most of us are spinning our wheels getting out of the gate.
That said, I can’t think of anyone who has it worse than this year’s crop of high school seniors, and for that, I have had a front-row seat.
The late winter and spring of this year originally would have been a celebration of all things the kid was involved in. I was particularly looking forward to jazz band and the spring musical. A culmination of all her achievements through four years of high school, and a lifetime in the school district.
The kids, bless ‘em, have made their own arrangements (My favorite is the “morp” — their replacement for their canceled prom). Still, it is particularly hard for we adults. This was the youngest — the last one — for my girlfriend, and the only one for me. Even trying to stay objective, it is hard not to feel robbed, and it isn’t even “about” us.
The class of 2020 was born in the wake of 9/11, at the beginning of our forever wars and now graduates during a pandemic against the backdrop of protests.
Compounding the issue is Pennsylvania’s agonizingly slow emergence from lockdown restrictions. Oh, the school district is trying its best. It held a virtual senior awards presentation, a virtual baccalaureate. Unique, maybe, but not special moments shared with friends and family.
Friday night, however, the district and the town both nailed it by holding a parade for the class of 2020.
It was the real deal. Streets closed down by police, fire department escort, and each family had the opportunity to decorate their car and drive their senior through town in cap and gown. And parents didn’t disappoint, many bringing out their classics or whatever was available to make the experience special.
Happily, having a convertible, I was able to put the kid on center stage. With graduation limited to 10 students at a time and only two family members permitted (a place rightfully reserved for her mom and dad), acting as the chauffer was an honor.
I couldn’t help having The Beatles singing “Drive My Car” in my head while we passed through town. And the residents stepped up, with friends and neighbors, families and teachers lining the streets to cheer on the class of 2020. They marveled at how much fun they were having, how they could see the students from the comfort of their front yards and how they didn’t have to bake in the sun listening to speeches.
I think it probably felt good for everyone to celebrate the achievements of the seniors after being shut away for so long, and I know it must have felt pretty amazing to be on the receiving end of all of that as well.
More than a few of us were thinking after the parade it could be the start of something big. What better legacy for this amazing group of young people than the beginning of a new annual tradition?
Something worth consideration. For now, congratulations, class of 2020!