Reading the stories of Class of 2020 students in last week’s Free Press, one could clearly see a sense of disappointment, but also a sense of steadfastness in the challenges that lie ahead.
The biggest disappointments seemed to revolve around students’ inability to have traditional classes and participate in activities during their last hurrah. But on a deeper level, it seems the students missed being with their friends most, and that may have a positive impact on all their relationships going forward.
While the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately changed life as we know it, it also illuminated those things we hold most dear, whether it be participating in a sport, or spending time with friends in social settings or in activities.
The students had to think more about learning, and how difficult it was in an isolated environment. Many students said it would be good practice for college, where learning is more self-motivational than required tasking.
The Class of 2020 graduates at a historic, if not troubling time. From health pandemic caused by a chaotic natural environment, to the human conflict arising out of the racial divisions, there are plenty of problems to solve.
The extreme nature of both events coinciding at a time of social and civil unrest will likely open up all kinds of reasons to be a motivated young adult. Already, we see graduating nursing students ready to take on the challenge of helping the world face the pandemic. We see young people engaged in social justice like never before.
It’s unfortunate, of course, we have to rely on civil unrest as a reason for students to take on the world. Graduation would have been much more fun for students, friends and families had it played out in the traditional way.
But the friendships are likely to be longer and stronger. And there are plans for the classes of 2020 to get together at some point for a more traditional celebration. We hope they do.
The Class of 2020 was put on pause for the great pandemic of 2019 and the race riots of 2020. It’s a birth by fire, but they may be stronger for it.
We may have failed at leaving the world a better place for the class of 2020, but we can have confidence they now know what that looks like and hope they will not repeat our mistakes.