Remember high school graduating seniors

Posted 4/22/20

High school graduation is a time of great joy for many people.

It is a rite of passage, a large mile marker on the highway of life.

In small towns like Kalona, Riverside, Wellman and Lone Tree, …

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Remember high school graduating seniors

Posted

High school graduation is a time of great joy for many people.

It is a rite of passage, a large mile marker on the highway of life.

In small towns like Kalona, Riverside, Wellman and Lone Tree, students have developed deep bonds with classmates who have been by their side since kindergarten.

These are lifelong bonds formed in classes and school activities over 13 years.

One of the poignant moments of a high school graduation ceremony is the slide show with images of the students over the years from nervous first days in kindergarten to confident seniors who have become role models for younger students.

Unlike large metropolitan schools, most area graduating seniors know everybody in their graduating class. There are few secrets in a small high school. Classmates are like family members.

There is a fork in the road at graduation. Different students will take different paths – jobs, the military, college and, for some, marriage to their high school sweethearts.

As students walk across the stage to pick up their diplomas, there are smiles and tears.

The celebration is as much for parents as it is for the students.

This year, there will be no traditional graduation ceremonies in May.

COVID-19, as it has done in so many areas, has robbed students of this traditional send-off into life.

In just over a month, years of anticipation were dashed. Graduation is just one loss. Spring sports will not take place. The Mid-Prairie girls led by Marie Hochstedler were hoping to defend their state track title. This year there was no Drake Relays, no state track championship.

Golf and soccer athletes also have worked for years, only to see the culmination of their high school athletic careers vanish in the haze that COVID-19 has spread across the nation.

Prom dresses hang in closets, sad sentinels to the many traditions that have been lost.

School administrators are discussing ways of having a graduation once this crisis has passed.

One idea floated at a Lone Tree school board meeting was scheduling a graduation ceremony during football homecoming week in the fall. It would not be the same, but it would be something to offer seniors.

Schools are posting senior photos on social media, and The News is working on its annual graduation edition, with photos and write-ups on graduating seniors from area high schools.

If you know a graduating senior, take time to congratulate them and wish them well for the future. These students have lived through much in their short lives. They were born in the wake of 9/11. They entered school in the economic turbulence of the 2008 recession. They have not known a time that the United State was not at war in Afghanistan or Iraq.

These are kids that have been hardened by life, yet all of the seniors we have talked with remain upbeat.

We wish them well as they prepare to embark on the rest of their lives. They have accomplished much; they persevere; they thrive. They will do well. They need to remember that graduation ceremonies are simply an acknowledgement of something they have already accomplished.

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