OPINION: Bravo to the Class of 2021!

OPINION: Bravo to the Class of 2021!
Pauline Kerr
Graduation this year is different for many young Quebecers. The pandemic means a cautious approach to ceremonies is still in order, with some schools opting for smaller gatherings. By the time life has returned to some form of pre-pandemic normal, many members of the classes of 2020 and 2021 will have departed for higher levels of education or employment opportunities far away. Life goes on despite COVID. Celebrations postponed from a year ago will not be the same. Milestone celebrations are like fresh fruit – they come with a “best before” date. After a while, no matter how nice they still look, the taste and texture are gone. Whether our grads attend ceremonies or not, every member of the class of 2021 will have interesting tales to tell, and a special kind of resilience developed by slogging through the great COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 -2021, sometimes attending class in person, sometimes from home, shifting from one to the other at a moment’s notice. While standard school clothing degenerated from brand-name styles to pyjamas and hoodies, students worked incredibly hard for those diplomas and degrees. With team sports mostly banned, the family dog became their jogging buddy, the local hiking trails their recreation centre. Playing hopscotch with their little sister became the most exciting activity of the day (even if she did cheat). Sometimes the classroom – the kitchen table – was also their parents’ office. They helped Mom and Dad learn to Zoom, and in doing so, figured out their parents were kind of important people. Their parents got a mind-boggling introduction to high school subject matter. Both will miss the closeness that developed over mid-morning coffee breaks at that table/office/ classroom. College and university students left their newfound freedom and returned home to complete their courses as best they could. Some put career plans on hold, and some had their hopes of earning a major sports scholarship dashed.
Many students at every level discovered a determination they never knew they had, that will benefit them throughout their lives. COVID-19 was not easy on them. Those of us long past our own school days should try to imagine how we would have coped had we been told we could not visit with anyone outside our immediate families for months at a time, while the pandemic raged. We would have been overwhelmed.
Members of the class of 2021 probably were, too, but to their credit, they coped magnificently. A certain “I can get through anything” attitude has developed in our COVID grads. It goes beyond confidence; there is an element of toughness, a bit of a swagger, and it looks good on them. The class of 2021 includes the kids who brightened our day with their humour and quick wits at the drive-through window, the young entrepreneurs who started online businesses, the bloggers, the dogwalkers and the ones who made snow angels outside a local nursing home. It includes the kids who never thought they could complete an entire school year from home, but did it anyway. It also includes the kids who survived dark days when the combination of fear and boredom got the better of them, when frustration over attending class remotely built and the grim reality of living through a pandemic hit with full force. Some of them needed a bit of extra help with that, and they had the courage to go after it.
Words cannot take the place of the graduation ceremonies our young people missed out on, but we must say them anyway – bravo, congratulations, thumbs-up, virtual elbow bump, three cheers and way to go, class of 2021! You did it!

OPINION: Bravo to the Class of 2021! was last modified: June 30th, 2021 by QCT Editor

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