If you haven’t heard or read by now, the news for the Redwood Valley High School Class of 2020 seems to get better every day. (Please don’t let my dripping sarcasm stain your shirt.)
First they found out in March they would be spending much of their final days as seniors at home doing their classes from a distance. Then the governor announced the remainder of the school year would be done via distance learning.
While some held out hope that schools would be allowed to host events like prom, they, too, ultimately were cancelled. That left a lot of young ladies holding dresses they had bought with nowhere to wear them. (By the way, if you would like to show off your prom dress, you can send a photo of you in it, and I will share it with the rest of the world.)
While all of this was happening, a group of RVHS seniors had been meeting with school leadership to talk about the most important milestone of the year – graduation. Although not preferable, a plan was put in place that would allow the class to gather together one last time at Inglis Field for a ceremony.
While grandmas and grandpas, as well as aunts, uncles and family friends, would not be able to witness the moment they walked across the stage, at least a few immediate loved ones would be able to be there to watch them celebrate in their red caps and gowns.
Another and final shoe fell for the senior class when the Minnesota Department of Education offered its guidance on graduation ceremonies. In essence, the state education leaders told school districts that ceremonies of any type were not going to happen regardless if they were held indoors or outdoors or if the proper six-foot berth was being observed.
So, when graduation day arrives at the end of this month, the Redwood Valley Class of 2020 will be seated inside of vehicles in the Redwood Valley school parking lot with proper distance between vehicles. (I am wondering if convertibles will be acceptable that day.)
As the dad of a senior, I have heard a lot of the frustration from people as they talk about what this class has missed. Of course, my Amos has no interest in it at all. In fact, if he got his diploma in the mail he would be fine with that.
I am more than a little sad in a selfish way as it relates to this year’s seniors, because I am also missing out on enjoying the final events of their time in high school. I missed out on face- to-face interviews with several potential Student Rotarians, and won’t get to attend their final band and choir concerts.
I think the fact that I have to go through the rest of this school year knowing I have already heard those last performances hurts the most.
I will miss talking with those who would have made it to the state speech tournament. There are so many great students in this class that I have gotten to know well.
I have been there to witness all of it. I was there the day they started Kindergarten and the day they had their debut music performance.
I witnessed their fourth-grade graduation and saw them as fifth graders when they played together in the PAC as a band for the first time.
I watched them as they made their way to high school and saw them grow, mature and become young men and women.
This is a great group of people, and I am confident they are going to do great things.
The Class of 2020 will forever be known throughout history as the class who graduated during the COVID-19 pandemic. While I know that is the reality, I do not think it is a fair assessment of them.
What I do believe about this senior class is it is the right group of students to face it. I can say without doubt that what this class has encountered in their final days at Redwood Valley will make them stronger.
In the future, they will be a class that sees huge successes simply because they have learned how to overcome daunting obstacles. These will be the types of people we will want working for us in the future, because they will be problem solvers.
The rest of us need to just get out of their way.
My wish would be that every one of these students would come back to their hometown to work and raise their families, because they will be significant influences in whatever places they call home.
A time will come in the future when we all look back on the Class of 2020 and see them for who they really are – the group that changed the world because they would not let a little thing like a pandemic change them.