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The Recorder - Editorial: History will remember Class of 2020

Published: 6/4/2020 1:29:40 PM

Every generation is marked by a few defining events — cultural forces that divert history’s trajectory for decades to come. Of course, historical events like wars and natural disasters affect everyone. But the lives of young adults are particularly impacted. They’re the ones who ship off to war. They’re the ones who challenge previous ways of thinking and enter the workforce for the first time. They’re the ones who will pass on the torch to the next generation.

The future is always held by the youth.

The Silent Generation, those born before 1945, endured World War II; Baby Boomers experienced the Vietnam War; Generation X witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall; Millennials watched the World Trade Towers collapse in white smoke.

Generation Z graduated during a pandemic.

Their commencement ceremonies were held behind computers; tears of relief were shed safely behind car windows; well wishes were muffled through masks.

Typically, joy is the graduating class’s hallmark emotion. This year, disappointment and sadness are equally present. When Gov. Charlie Baker canceled in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, it didn’t just mean that students would have to adjust to an online format— a challenge in and of itself. It also meant that many youngsters (regardless of grade) wouldn’t get a chance to properly bid farewell to their classmates.

It’s an unduly heavy burden to bear, and we sympathize with their plight. No one asked for this.

But in the face of the challenges, we’ve witnessed local students rise to the occasion with a positive outlook and a grateful spirit.

“The community has exceeded all expectations,” said Jordin Hubbard, a graduating senior at Pioneer Valley Regional School in Northfield. Hubbard intends to attend the University of Minnesota in the fall. “Yes, a traditional ceremony is what everyone hoped for. However, these are not traditional times.”

Jaylynn Eady, treasurer of the Class of 2020 at the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School in Orange, noted, “There’s no win-win situation. You’ve got to just go with the flow. That’s something I’ve learned in all this.”

More challenges await this year’s graduating high school class after commencement. Many will enter the workforce remotely; others will begin their collegiate careers online. We wish them well, and hope area employers will sympathize with their plight.

As the pandemic continues to unfold, impacting just about every facet of life, there are a lot of uncertainties: How long will social distancing requirements be in place? Will there be a resurgence of cases when the colder weather comes? Will there ever be a vaccine?

Amid these concerns, one thing is for sure: history will remember the Class of 2020.

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