It is my great honor to have the opportunity to address so many of you here in our community newspaper and to wish you the very best as you mark this important milestone on your educational journey. With the many changes and closures brought by our response to the spread of the coronavirus, your celebrations will look very different than the ones you had anticipated. Graduates at every level are missing out on the opportunities to gather with their school community, friends, and family to celebrate past achievements while anticipating the next endeavor.
Elementary school students were not able to say goodbye to their very first school. Many eighth graders missed the chance to celebrate the end of middle school with friends who are off to different high schools. Our high school seniors have missed so many iconic and traditional rites of passage, and the same goes for our college students who have graduated into an uncertain job market. None of this is what any of us anticipated, and we all wish it were different.
As students, you quickly adapted to a whole new way of learning. I know that all your teachers, coaches, administrators, counselors, and parents worked so hard to make online schooling happen as smoothly as possible. From Zoom projects, Teams class meetings, and House party orchestra rehearsals to the very first at-home AP exams, the class of 2020 can say they were the first for many things. While it was not easy and maybe you did not love every part of it, online school allowed you to finish out the year and close this chapter. This ability to work hard and be flexible is a lesson you will carry with you to the next step of your journey and throughout your life.
I have to acknowledge the many parents and grandparents who are also missing their moment to cheer (loudly) for you. As a parent myself, I know that they are heartbroken for the celebrations and ceremonies you have had to miss. Many families and school communities have scrambled to pull together last-minute events which may be smaller than what they had planned but are bursting with as much pride and love as ever.
Class of 2020, while this is an unusual way to mark commencements, I have great hope for your futures. As you take your next steps, I hope you do so knowing that your community is incredibly proud of what you have accomplished, and we look forward to seeing what you do next.
Councilmember Charles Allen, Ward 6
Chair, Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety