roots cellar

Class of 2020

By KRISTIN BARRON
Posted 7/15/20

Our most traditional and taken-for-granted events are up in the air this year, stolen by COVID-19—the ultimate wrench in the works, in more ways than one.

The speculation started back in …

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roots cellar

Class of 2020

Posted

Our most traditional and taken-for-granted events are up in the air this year, stolen by COVID-19—the ultimate wrench in the works, in more ways than one.

The speculation started back in March as events were canceled or postponed one by one. Will school open again this year? Will there be the summer Olympics? Will there be the county fair? Will there be Fourth of July fireworks? Virtual fireworks just don’t cut it, you know. We need that rotten egg smell and the plume and waft of smoke.

No one knew if my daughter Lily’s high school graduation ceremony was going to take place or not this year. All school districts throughout the county were facing the same dilemma. Should there be an in-person ceremony? Could there be?

Commencement rituals, like fireworks, are something we all want to be together for. We want to feel the silk of the cap’s tassel as we switch it to the “graduated” side. We want to toss those caps in the air and feel the relief of not having to return to this place again if we don’t want to.

Many of the larger schools opted for virtual observances. Others went the drive-through route, rolling up with cap and gown in the family car to collect a diploma. Some, such as Sullivan West, handed out diplomas individually with family present, hoping to plan a group event later this summer.

But, sometimes, it is lucky to be from a small town and have a small school. Gov. Cuomo’s announcement that schools could begin holding outdoor, socially distanced graduations of up to 150 people beginning on June 26 was a heartening turn of events for my daughter’s Hancock Central School senior class of 36. Each student would be allowed to bring two guests. For large families, this was a bone of contention, as was the rumor that police would kick out anyone without a ticket. But the fact that the whole class could graduate together instead of in shifts, as is necessary for some districts, was welcome news.

The morning of graduation was hot and sunny. The class wore masks embroidered with the phrase “Class of 2020”. They marched across the football field to a recording of “Pomp and Circumstance” which is usually performed by the school band. Onlookers sat in the stands on designated spots to maintain distance and graduates picked up their diplomas from a table instead of shaking hands and taking them from the school board president as is typical.

As graduations go, I thought it was the best I had ever attended. The speeches were good, reflecting on the strange predicament of the Class of 2020 as they enter this new world. In my view, the uniqueness of the event more than made up for what was lost.

Congratulations and best of luck to Lily and all members of the class of 2020. Best wishes as well to schools and communities as they move ahead with the difficult job of planning for the next school year. The questions remain. How will and when will school reopen?

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