Pop Goes The World

To The Class of 2020

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2020, You have had the misfortune of having your world turned upside down in recent months. On a Friday in March you went to school just as you had many days, months and years before and then you left. You thought the separation from school would be brief, but then it became apparent that the last time you roamed the halls of your school would truly be the last time.

The abrupt end of the school year could not have occurred at a worse time. Spring is when senior year becomes fun. You may have already purchased your prom gown or reserved your tux. Plans were probably being made for a prom theme or one had already been selected. But then, no prom. The dresses went back to the shop. The rentals were canceled. Photo shoots were shelved.

The ultimate insult was the cancellation of graduation. You made it to your senior year and you were dreaming of the time when “Pomp and Circumstance” would be played, speeches would be made and the caps would be tossed. But crowds are too risky right now, we are told. Substitutions have to be made. Virtual gradations are a thing now.

It’s not fair, I know. None of this is fair. When you should be socializing, you are told to practice social distancing. You want those massive hugs from proud family members who have known you and loved you all your life and teachers who nurtured you from freshman year to right now as you’re about to embark on an exciting time in your life. It’s hard to think there will not be a proper goodbye to your high school experience. It just stopped.

If you have been accepted at college, you are probably wondering when your on campus experience will begin as there is talk that some universities will not reopen in the fall and will only offer online courses to its students.

I still remember my college move-in day. It was the hottest day of the year and I was moving into a brick dorm with no air-conditioning. I had only a box fan, which was wedged in the window. It brought some relief from the heat, but not very much.

You will have an air-conditioned room, most likely. Or one that is nicely heated in the winter should you be starting your freshman on campus experience in January.

We don’t know what is on the horizon, so all of us are with you right now, class of 2020. The ink for the writing of the next chapter in all our lives is still in the pen.

One thing I can tell you is that just when you think things can’t get worse, they do. But that’s life. Living has its challenges and accepting this is a sign of maturity.

One thing I can also tell you is that one bright day, this strange time will be over. It won’t happen overnight, but gradually. You probably won’t even realize the changes as they occur every day. Spring will give way to summer and it will be odd to experience a summer without pools and parties. But can you think of a summer that didn’t seem to vanish after July 4?

The Fourth of July will probably be a slightly muted celebration without the grand pyrotechnic displays that encourage mass gatherings. But there’s nothing to stop your family from firing up the grill, setting off some fireworks and playing some patriotic music.

August might as well be fall. It doesn’t feel like fall, but neither does September for the first few weeks. October will come. Who knows what Halloween will be like? It could be just like it is every year, or it could be canceled. Thanksgiving in November won’t be canceled. The parade in New York might not go on as planned, but we can still sit down and have some turkey, gravy and sides.

Christmas will come. COVID-19’s eraser is not strong enough to expunge Dec. 25 from the calendar. You guys know this from watching “The Grinch” multiple times. The residents of Whoville still joined hands on Christmas Day and sang even after their homes had been looted of all decorations, gifts and the last can of Who Hash.

Another year will begin. In January there will be so much hope for a better year. February will be short and snowy. In March spring begins anew. The red buds will appear, as will the daffodils. One day you will find yourself on a tawny beach with your toes in the sand or you will be at a pool with the sun glistening off the heavily chlorinated water. You will feel the sting of a sunburn from not being vigilant enough about protecting your skin.

Around the perimeter of a grocery store parking lot you will find a discarded mask studded with gravel and mildewed by rain and you will be reminded of all those months that robbed you of all your good times. You will find strength when you realize you lived through that time and you are a more courageous person because of it.

Graduates, turn your tassels.

The News-Gazette

The News-Gazette Corp.
P.O. Box 1153
Lexington, VA 24450
(540) 463-3113

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