Though actual plans for local high school graduation ceremonies remain scarce in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, districts will be ending the 2019-20 school year as soon as next week. That’s when ConVal, Hinsdale, Monadnock and Jaffrey-Rindge schools will end their terms. Fall Mountain ends June 5. Keene schools will end June 12.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the end-of-year plans for students at all levels, but none more than seniors, who’ve missed their final prom, final spring sports seasons, senior trips, awards ceremonies and, to add a final insult, graduation.
Several districts in the region have tried their best to honor their soon-to-be graduates, with yard signs noting their accomplishments. Some, as in Keene, even include photos and names of the individual graduates. ConVal plans a drive-by tour this coming weekend of the graduates’ homes, similar to the birthday parades that have become commonplace in the past two months. Monadnock High’s principal and class advisers also went to the homes of the school’s seniors to surprise them with signs and balloons. Hinsdale is hoping to work out an in-person graduation at the Northfield Drive-In, but thus far has no concrete plans.
And The Sentinel will unveil Wednesday a “virtual yearbook” for area high schools, where photos and information on graduates can be submitted for each student. It can be found at sentinelsource.com and will remain online through the summer.
But all of these efforts will undoubtedly fall flat for some graduates. A dozen years of effort deserves to be honored, and the traditional cap-and-gown commencement is a huge day for many. Not only for the academic heroes, the valedictorian and class president and such, who would have their own special moment in the sun; but especially for those who’ve struggled through school, either in passing subjects or even staying in school. They are especially worthy of praise at the end of a long, successful journey.
For all students, as well as teachers, tutors, staff and administrators, this has been a particularly unusual, even grueling year. To have managed to complete the requirements of graduation in an environment where in-person instruction was virtually absent; in which public libraries have been limited, if not closed entirely; in which any cooperation has had to come remotely and hands-on instruction has been nearly impossible — makes it all the more disappointing that these special seniors are being denied, at least for now, their rightful recognition.
We’ll add, too, that scholastics aside, these are very fraught times. Not only is there the fear of a sometimes-deadly virus hanging over the region and country, there is the economic worry as the pandemic threatens many families’ livelihoods. Furthermore, there is the simple disruption of normalcy. When tensions mount, routine is one of the best fallbacks for feeling more secure. This situation has unsettled even the most ordinary practices.
So here’s a shout-out to those graduates-to-be, for persevering through circumstances unknown in a century. And here’s hoping the experience better prepares you all for succeeding in the future.