Is there anyone among us who doesn’t feel sorry for the Lawrenceville and Red Hill high school graduating classes of 2020?
What’s happening isn’t fair and you didn’t deserve it. It’s not right that you didn’t get to spend those final weeks as seniors with your friends, teachers and coaches. It’s not right that your last months as a high school student were spent glued to a laptop, or that you didn’t get to walk through your gym to the strains of “Pomp and Circumstance.” It isn’t right that you didn’t get to tell a few teachers, face to face, how much they meant to you.
I regret that you didn’t get to walk across a stage to receive your diploma or flip your tassels in unison at the end of the ceremony.
You’re only a senior once, and this was going to be your chance to celebrate this moment with your friends, some of whom you’ve known since kindergarten, or maybe even before.
We’re so sorry about all of that.
It would be impossible to know all of your classmates well. But you’ve all been brought together to travel these last scholastic miles. Your classmates are your people, your mates, now and forever. The class of 2020? It has a nice ring to it.
You’ll always have the good times, the bus rides, the band concerts and winning the Oil Field Trophy from your rival. You will carry those memories with you for the rest of your life, and that’s a promise.
One thing you will know better than any of us who came before you, is that life isn’t always fair. Some of us had to wait years to find that out. For better or for worse, you know that already, in a very real way. Believe it or not, life will continue to throw you curve balls. So when unfairness strikes you again, you will have been hardened by the coronavirus of 2020. You’ll already know you can do hard things. From now on, when you’re dealt the inevitable setback, you’ll think, “This sucks. But it isn’t as bad as the coronavirus.”
You will carry the memory of this time the way your great-grandparents carried the memory of the Great Depression, and your grandparents carry the memory of the awful Vietnam War and unrest of the time.
Be careful as you say your good-byes. Stay safe. Tell a few stories. Laugh and cry, if you wish. Promise each other you will stay in touch, then keep that promise.
Then flip your imaginary tassel and prepare to take on the world. Rest assured, the rest of us are going to need you.
On behalf of all Lawrence Countians, I wish each of you the very best of luck. Be you a Saluki or an Indian, we know you will make us proud.
Bill Richardson has been a reporter for the Daily Record since 2001, and has been editor since 2016.