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Our opinion: Message to graduates

May is done, June has begun and the future awaits.

Around the state of Minnesota, schools are wrapping up their graduations. Austin Public Schools and Pacelli Catholic Schools are two of those with Pacelli holding their graduation at 7 p.m. tonight at St. Augustine’s Catholic Church and APS holding its commencement at 7 p.m. on Friday night.

Graduation is the highlight of any school year. As speakers often repeat, it’s the end of one journey and the beginning of another. Students will soon be leaving all they know behind  for new experiences in an unknown world that they will task to make their own.

However, there is no ignoring the herd of elephants in the room. We will be comparing everything to the COVID-19 pandemic for quite some time to come. It’s inevitable that the coronavirus will continue playing a role in our lives long after the restrictions are completely lifted.

Schools have been feeling the effects of this since the beginning, when districts were forced to swivel their modes of education in new ways to continue teaching students. Primarily this was done over new mediums like Zoom, but it quickly became apparent that this was not the ideal way of education.

Students needed to be in classrooms without question. Administrators, teachers, students and families all understood this. There can be no denying that this has been hard on all parties and we will continue to see the effects of this as schools work to catch students up.

But we’ve known about this for quite awhile and so we want to leave graduates with this bit of advice. Learn from this experience. This is a prime example that sometimes things will inevitably not go your way and that within itself is a hard lesson. You will have to adapt. You will have to change to ensure that  you come out of this the best version of you that you can be.

However, you do have an advantage. You’ve gone through the last part of your junior year and your entire senior year learning and knowing how to adapt and in most ways you have done just that.

This has been no way for a student to go through school. You should have been able to enjoy your homecomings, your proms, your classmates. All of that was either stripped from you or changed in a way that no doubt didn’t live up to your expectations.

And now that is gone, but we would be remiss if we didn’t point out the grace with which you adapted to all of this. For a couple of years now we have been running “Get to Know” pieces in our sports section. This year, we have included a question asking athletes how they’ve gotten through the pandemic.

Each one of you answered that question in different ways, but almost always adding what you have taken away personally from this and how you’ve come to appreciate your time in school.

You’ve also expressed not giving up.

We are impressed by how you seniors have been able to roll with unfair punches this year and we would remind you to remember this and how this kind of adaptation made you stronger.

You and the rest of us will all be the better for this strength. Congratulations Class of 2021 and best of luck in all of your future endeavors.

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