Our View: Zoom and circumstance | TheUnion.com

Our View: Zoom and circumstance

There’s an electricity that builds when standing in your cap and gown.

You can remember your first day of high school four years ago, scared and alone in crowded halls. Older students a foot taller than you, maybe more, gliding through the halls with ease.

Then you were the one moving past shorter students, meeting with friends, manipulating your class schedule like a pro. We rule the school.

Then, suddenly, you’re standing in line with your classmates under a hot sun. A Charlie Brown voice is on the loudspeaker, and the line jerks forward.

Hairs stand up on your arm. The electricity builds.

These moments have been changed for this year, and last. The coronavirus shut down graduation for the class of 2020. Students arrived at set times with their families. Everyone stood distant, socially.

It’s a bit better this year. One school had students sit at tables with their families. They got to stand on stage as a teacher listed off their accomplishments. Another school had students matriculate in pairs, which ensured people kept their distance.

It’s a far cry from the balloons and beach balls bouncing around a graduating class from some of our younger days, but it’s better than nothing.

That’s sure to be a sore point for graduates from this year and last. They don’t want to commiserate or hear a host of apologies. They want what all of us had, and what graduates will have in the future.

Parents and friends crowded in the stands, the orchestra gearing up, the slow walk to their seats as the ceremony beings.

These students have been robbed, in a way — a key moment in time stolen from them that can never be returned. These are memories the rest of us lived through, enjoyed and cherish to this day.

Graduates from this year and last will have similar memories, but they’re not the same. They also won’t have the same level of schooling most of us had in high school. Online classes and Zoom conferences fill the gaps when necessary, but they’re not what we would have done absent a pandemic.

The first year of college could be tough for some of these students. They may find themselves struggling through certain classes, and pulling more all-nighters than they would have liked.

None of this is ideal. It’s not the graduation any of these students thought of on that first day of high school as they navigated foreign corridors. It likely won’t be the first year of university that they envisioned.

But — with community support, and the support of graduates’ friends and family — this graduation season, and the year to come, can be just as enjoyable and fulfilling as any.

We’ve already seen the electricity at commencement ceremonies. A family jumping to its feet, confetti in the air as their graduate steps onto the stage.

Or the caps, sitting snugly on heads throughout the ceremony, suddenly thrown upward as the crowd erupts into applause.

It wasn’t that long ago when you tussled with scratchy robes and an ill-fitting hat. Your friends and classmates surrounding you, the air thick with a copper taste and a tingling in your fingertips as seat legs scrape against the floor.

There’s a silence that descends just seconds before the ceremony begins.

Wait, wait.

The band is about to start.

The weekly Our View editorial represents the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com

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