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August 6, 2020

5/20/2020 12:37:00 PM
Class of 2020 destined for greatness

Congratulations to the 229 seniors graduating next weekend from Jennings County High School. The Class of 2020, certainly, is not getting the traditional pomp-and-circumstance, and that stinks.

Often, graduation is the last time we will see most of our classmates, many we've known since kindergarten. And it may be the last time we see the teachers who inspired us. It also marks the day when we our lives become ours to live.

But in the age of COVID-19, that isn't going to be so easy.

So much of the future is always unknown, but today it's as impossible to know what the next six to 12 months will bring as it for the next 10 or 20 years. Almost overnight, everything we'd become familiar with was gone. It can be overwhelming, even for the most optimistic among us.

For the foreseeable future, life will be nothing like it has been for past graduates. Any college or additional education you may have planned for may only be offered online, depriving you of exciting experiences others have had; you probably will be staying at home, rather than moving on campus or into your own apartment.

But, you are more fortunate than you know. The world, literally, is at your fingertips in a way that previous generations only dreamed it could be.

When I graduated in 1980, cable was just becoming a thing; personal computers were another 10 years down the road, and the Internet only existed in the minds of those who were destined to create and build it. It was the stuff of "Star Trek" - both the TV show and the films.

Online, everything you need to continue educating yourself is right there at your fingertips. And with social media, you can stay in touch with your friends and former classmates far beyond graduation.
Is it ideal? No, of course not. Nothing can or should take the place of in-person celebrations and events.

But, it's what we have to give you, and you will make the best of it.
Adversity is here to stay. Many of you probably know that already. Coming of age during a global pandemic, dealing with a disease that can be painful and deadly, is beyond what anyone has experienced in
the past century.

It's unclear how long isolation will be required of us to slow the spread of this terrifying virus - it will likely be months and possibly even years.
I want you to know that I, and I'm sure I am not alone, mourn what you
have lost.

But, adversity does, indeed, build character. You have so many advantages, and so much potential. I believe your generation will lead the way as we struggle to define what post-pandemic life will be like.

You, Jennings County High School Class of 2020, are resilient. Your district leaders and teachers embraced the idea of eLearning early on, paving the way for you to complete your courses despite all of this.
They have your back, and so does the community.

Make the best of everything available to you, and you will prevail, even if you have to do so virtually.

McLaughlin is editor of the Plain Dealer & Sun. Email comments to editor@northvernon.com.

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