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Monday, May 18, 2020

Rock On, Seniors!

Woke up to reality
And found the future not so bright
I dreamt the impossible
That maybe things could work out right…
- “Shattered Dreams” - Johnny Hates Jazz

The summer of ’69 was almost upon us. It was high school graduation time and those diplomas were a first real statement of achievement. After the official ceremonies, several friends and I met on a hill outside of Sidney, Montana, to finish the night in celebration. That included the sharing of high hopes and visionary dreams.

That was then. This…is now. And no such evening awaits the graduations of 2020. Covid-19 has seen to that.

Perhaps, like me, you feel for the high school and college seniors who get no thrill of send off this year. If anything, they feel robbed. What should have been a grand conclusion to their educational journey is a date with isolation from friends, teachers, and prom night memories. Understandably, graduates are a bit angry.

As the Washington Times recently recounted, “Some have opted to drop any sort of commemoration and just focus on the future. Some have used their cars for “drive-by” celebrations. Others have planned virtual get-togethers via teleconferencing apps such as Zoom and Google Hangouts.” But it all adds up to the Year of the Surreal Graduation.

Then there are the athletes. Spring delivers high school and college basketball and hockey championships. The baseball season. Golf and track. All the hopes and those dreams that “this is going to be my year!” instead have gone by the wayside. Strike up the band for another reason for disappointment. Just make sure the band doesn’t actually meet together.

Yakirah Clay was senior class president at DuVal High School in Lanham, Virginia. Her previous active high school life kept her very busy. The virus has curtailed all that. In her words, “It’s really getting to my mind. I only have sitting in my house and then going to work.” Some grand finale, eh?

Students in Illinois will have memorable “ceremonies” in the 2020 Year of the Surreal Graduation. Schools in our state are planning drive through, drive in, or tune in options for the graduates. Obviously what’s missing are the traditional transfer of diplomas with a human touch, hugs, or handshakes.

One of the rich experiences that usually ends college life is hearing from excellent commencement speakers. Chicago Public Schools have arranged for Oprah Winfrey to give the main commencement address. According to the Chicago Tribune, the virtual ceremony in June will be offered to “all of Chicago’s high school seniors, whether they attend district, charter, or private schools.” I’ll bet the excitement is building already. (cough, cough)

The 2020 graduates are also being told to make sure and get their caps, gowns, and diplomas ahead of time. I guess that’s so you look the part at your drive through or virtual ceremony. Doesn’t it all seem a bit phony? Another COVID-19 ripoff.

My high school graduation in Sidney, Montana, was also about scholarships and excitement over where students were headed for college. This year’s graduates cannot even be sure a campus apart from home will be waiting for them. No worries about a new “roomie” for now. Or whether you’ll make the cut on extracurricular programs. Or whether your sports team will even play in the fall.

I’ve spoken at a couple of graduations. If it was this year, my address would be built around these famous words of a man named Jesus: “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.” Matthew 7:24-25 (NLT)

I wonder how many teachers ever shared those words of wisdom—teaching students how to build a life foundation on a solid rock.

It’s this Truth that gives you hope when all you seem to have…are shattered dreams.

That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

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