Graduates launch in memorable style
Thousands celebrated graduation last week, donning caps and gowns, photographing happy grads, smiling and partying with family and friends. They determinedly joined with the extended education community to create memorable events despite a pandemic that turned the world upside down for the Class of 2020.
All across Sussex, schools marshaled resources and volunteers to make a variety of events successful. Although public safety restrictions prevented large-scale indoor and outdoor ceremonies of the past, virtual online graduations creatively preserved familiar components. Bands and choruses made their traditional music, valedictorians delivered speeches, and graduation speakers encouraged viewers to carry their skills optimistically into an uncertain world.
Cape District officials estimate that people in 900 different households listened to country music star and Cape grad Jimmie Allen – during the virtual ceremony June 9 – talk about the importance of personal happiness in success, loving yourself and being good to people.
The day before, hundreds of grads paraded through the Hudson Fields Winterfest route past cheering family, friends, teachers, administrators and photos of themselves. Community collaboration at its best. Private and public working together, first responders and their equipment adding to the pageantry, police agencies joining in for traffic control.
The day after virtual graduation, 130 volunteer teachers and staff fanned out across the district to personally deliver 350 senior signs and diplomas. The three days of events were marvelously planned, choreographed and executed, a credit to all who participated. Different, yes, but the graduates can’t help but know they were launched into their future by a powerfully supportive community.
Education is all about preparation. While the 2020 class heads off to apply what it has learned, the extensive local education network has to turn its attention to preparing its thousands of students still in the pipeline. Coronavirus is forcing education stakeholders to consider radical changes to traditional models, just as was done with this year’s graduation events.
No one knows now what the fall will bring. One thing, though, is certain and was clearly demonstrated last week: A community working together, focusing on solutions instead of hurdles, can make positive things happen.