Graduating On The Silver Screen

Graduating On The Silver Screen

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL graduate Lane McFaddin walks off the stage with his diploma last Wednesday, the day all of the seniors were invited back to the school to receive their diplomas. The day’s activities, along with speeches by the speakers, have been videotaped for inclusion in the graduation video to be shown at Hull’s Drive-In.

Those of us of a certain age feel a sense of nostalgia when thinking about times spent at drive-in movie theaters. We fondly remember the carefree days of our youth, summer nights under the stars, dates with a high school sweetheart, favorite films, even visits to the concession stand.

Members of the 2020 graduating classes of Rockbridge County and Parry McCluer high schools are going to have a different reason for, in future years, having warm memories of time spent at Hull’s Drive-In. They’re going to treasure the memory of seeing themselves on the silver screen crossing a stage to receive their diplomas, all from the comfort of their cars.

Being a high school senior in the year of the coronavirus pandemic has been an experience unlike what any of the rest of us went through in past years. In-class instruction ended abruptly on a Friday the 13th back in March when, under ordinary circumstances, nearly a quarter of the school year remained. Seniors, many of whom had been classmates since kindergarten and may never see each other again, didn’t even have the opportunity to say goodbye, in person, on that fateful day nine weeks ago.

This year’s seniors, along with everyone else, have had to learn to navigate the complicated new world of social distancing. Hugs, high-fives and handshakes have been forbidden, until further notice. Proms, spring sports, in-person awards ceremonies, even senior skip day, all had to be canceled. The whole notion of being confined to one’s home for weeks on end must feel like being grounded, permanently, to the youth of today.

Still, members of the class of 2020 have made the most of a most unusual situation. They have persevered, completing their school work packets from home while corresponding, remotely, with their teachers. Seniors on technical education paths faced special challenges with learning from a distance. Seniors taking advanced placement and dual enrollment classes took examinations from home. Some seniors had the benefit of being excused from Standards of

Learning testing that would have otherwise been mandated for graduation.

Many, it’s safe to say, experienced the novel notion of actually missing school. Most are going through a certain amount of angst, not knowing what’s ahead in this uncertain new world. Those who were hoping to enter the work force right away may not have a job waiting for them. Unemployment is at its highest level since the Great Depression, with young adults the demographic that’s been hit the hardest. Seniors planning to continue their education are waiting to find out if colleges will be open for fall classes.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty wrought by COVID-19, there remains cause for celebration for the 277 Rockbridge area high school seniors who are being awarded their diplomas. The celebration begins this Friday, May 22, at sundown, at Hull’s. The 214 RCHS graduating seniors and their families will sit in their parked cars and view the milestone event, digitally captured individually earlier. PMHS’s 63 graduating seniors and their families will experience a similar virtual ceremony at Hull’s on June 24.

A 13-year educational journey is reaching its destination. The newest high school graduates have overcome challenges that their predecessors never had to face. It’s fitting that this accomplishment is being celebrated on the silver screen. All of the members of the high school class of 2020 will be screen stars for one very special night that will be long remembered.

The News-Gazette

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