Countless activities, events and occasions have been postponed or cancelled amidst the global pandemic. A few months ago, I would bet most of us had never uttered the words, “social distancing,” or “shelter at home.” Our world seems to be returning to a semi-normal state, as events are starting to pop back onto our calendars and our favorite non-essential stores are opening.
One such event that was postponed, then rescheduled, then rescheduled again is the Salem High School class of 2020 commencement exercises. This is the 135th graduation ceremony of Salem High School, and I would guess, one of the most talked about since the first graduating class over a century ago. As the 135 or so students accept their diplomas Friday evening, they will be cheered on by only five of their family members who were able to attend due to the tickets required for admission.
The ceremony will be available for streaming for those who aren’t present.
Seniors have organized a baccalaureate service for Wednesday evening, also at 7 p.m. at the football field. The service is a special time for seniors who chose to participate.
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The graduation ceremony may not hold the same pomp and circumstance as previous year’s, but the end result remains the same, and it will be no less special for the graduates and their families.
I was reminded that these students were born in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, as our country looked for answers and came together in a way none of us had seen before.
I myself, was a senior at Salem High School on that fateful day. We sat stunned in our classes, hallways eerily devoid of chatter as we tried to make sense of the senseless.
Then, as seniors, the class of 2020 has found themselves tangled in the hurdles of a global pandemic. Social distancing instead of social gatherings at school, lost sports seasons, records left unbroken, music left unsung, art left unproduced and countless other “lasts” that should have been woven in their high school memories.
At risk of sounding like a “boomer,” some of those memories should have been the best days of their lives. But the class of 2020 will persevere. Life will go on. They can get together in 10 or 20 years for a class reunion and say, “remember when…”
Salem will say goodbye to the class of 2020, and wish them well in their futures.