Graduates deserve their chance to shine

In today’s episode of “There’s a Meme For That”: A photo of two men, who appear to be businessmen-turned-miners, digging for diamonds. One of the gentlemen clearly has plenty of energy left to accomplish the mission, while the other walks away, defeated, with the treasure a hit or two away from his possession.

The intent of the meme displays the importance of not walking away from your goal, because you never know how close you are to accomplishing your dream.

Now, putting that into perspective, imagine going to school for 12 to 14 years and inching so close toward the goal of commencement. Then, picture walking away without that accomplishment due to factors beyond your influence.

There’s the cliché “control what you can control,” and this is in that realm. 

But it absolutely stinks.

Kids from the class of 2020 — all around the globe — won’t have the same graduation celebrations we experienced as teenagers. They won’t get to bookend their high school lives with that moment of hearing their names announced as they walk across the stage.

Obviously, this is not the fault of any educator, administrator, district employee, etc. This phenomenon exceeds anyone’s control locally, and the best we can do is take it one day at a time.

That’s easy for me to say, however. These kids deserve more and I feel we owe them that in some way.

At the time of writing this, commencement has not been officially canceled, but with the continuing physical distancing guidelines and rapid changes associated with the pandemic, who knows what might happen.

So how do we give these seniors that moment in the spotlight? What can we do to help them briefly forget how COVID-19 stripped them of part of their senior sports season and final year of activities for their respective schools, and provide a meaningful send-off?

I read an article where an HBCU in Alabama will hold a virtual graduation, and has been collecting photos and videos from seniors since the early portion of the month. The graduation will also feature celebrities and be livestreamed.

I also saw a video on Facebook of a kid who earned his degree, and cars drove through the neighborhood (still practicing social distancing, for the most part) delivering gifts and praise.

Obviously, this isn’t conventional or as extravagant as the Air Force Academy’s graduation, complete with fly overs (congratulations, cadets!), but it’s something. It’s a memory the graduate can cherish and share in the future.

A proper recognition can go several ways, and I have no idea how it’ll play out, but, hey, it’s an idea.

These kids worked too hard to have an anticlimactic graduation. Imagine, especially for those who overcame numerous obstacles, to obtain a high school diploma … only for their efforts to be uncelebrated.

These kids deserve to go into the next chapter of their lives with more than just a whimper. They earned far more than that, and we need to find a way to give them the proper praise.


Marcus Hill is a reporter for the Southeast Express and Schriever Sentinel. He graduated from Colorado State University-Pueblo in 2012 with a degree in Mass Communication.