Donna Grethen / Op-Art

Congratulations, 2021 graduates! What a journey.

If adversity makes people stronger, this year’s promotion will surely move mountains. The same goes for the parents, teachers, mentors and others who have helped thousands of high school students cross the finish line.

Getting here meant tapping into reserves of strength and ingenuity that few people realized they had.

They tackled new technologies and school routines while battling the uncertainty of the pandemic, isolated from beloved extended family members and socially estranged from friends.

They have found safe and creative ways to honor the precious traditions of the past year. Some of these innovations (like car parades) can be implemented by younger classes. Others (like virtual reunions), not so much.

They went through personal storms that varied from student to student, but no one had it easy. Parents lost their jobs. Others have had to brave the virus to go to work to keep food on the table. Still others have crammed into homes chock-full of family members crammed into laptops in makeshift workspaces – more family time than most teens would like in their senior years. .

As adults argued and worried about when and how to bring them back to classrooms, many this year seniors continued to log in, introduce themselves, and do their homework. Many have done this by mourning lost loved ones and feeling angry, scared and isolated. The academic challenges of distance or hybrid learning were only magnified by the emotional demands of this extraordinary year.

Unfortunately, some have not been so lucky or able to negotiate online learning. For those whose credits are insufficient and the pupils of the other years, more exceptional efforts will be necessary to catch them up.

Already, some memories are softening. It’s a blessing that many of the challenges of the past year look smaller in the rearview mirror.

But as graduation ceremonies take place across the region – literally, in drive-through ceremonies, or in the memories of graduates witnessing socially distant variations of traditional pomp – don’t forget the hard work, the persistence. , help and determination brought the Class 2021 to this time. Graduation is always an emotional step, but this year has been a hard-won victory.

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