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Editorial: Pandemic just a roadblock for Class of 2020

The Class of 2020 is something special.

Forty-four years from now, I bet they’ll remember waiting in their cars to get a diploma, taking classes from home, having to stay at home at a time in their lives where home is the last place they want to be, and wondering what in the heck is going on in this world.

That last one probably doesn’t matter, because I’m still trying to figure out what in the heck is going on in this world, and it was 44 years (Give or take a couple, my memory isn’t what it used to be) ago when I graduated from Davie High School. I vaguely remember any of the graduation ceremony. I remember we had to go to practice on a Friday, where some woman yelled at us a lot and threatened us with not being able to graduate unless we obeyed her orders. Looking back, I doubt if she had those powers. The ceremony itself was boring. I don’t remember the speaker. I don’t even remember where, or if, there was a party afterwards. No wisecracks here about graduating in the ’70s, folks, I just wasn’t impressed — and still am not impressed — by pomp and circumstances.

The Class of 2020 is unique. Their memories will be unique.

Sure, these high school graduates missed out on the things they had been looking forward to — awards ceremonies, the prom, ballgames, maybe a few last outings with lifelong friends.

By and large, these graduates, their schools and their families have taken on graduating during a pandemic with pride and vigor, with a renewed sense that no matter what, we all still have dreams.

They are learning that the paths to our dreams are filled with roadblocks — some small, some large, some of our own making, some we have no control over — but roadblocks just the same. They are learning that when a roadblock appears, it’s time to repair the road, build a detour around it, or, perhaps, just stop and think. That roadblock may not be so bad, after all. It may have been put there for a reason. Time to slow down.

They’re learning about life.

And thankfully for them and the world, they are handling it admirably.

Attending the Davie County Early College High School’s virtual and drive-through graduation ceremony, it’s easy to come away with a sense that everything is going to be OK. These kids and their families had fun with their unique situation. It was obvious that every educator at that school loves every student. It was obvious that the graduates loved each other, too.

And then there’s Victoria Bailey, who was chosen to speak to her fellow early college graduates. I can’t do her justice here. Visit the school’s website and click on the graduation ceremony, and if you watch nothing else, watch and listen to this young woman. Watch from the beginning of her speech until the end. Never have I heard a better speech from a high school student. No, never have I heard a better speech. Period. When I told some of her classmates how impressive that speech was, they never missed a beat and said in unison, “She’s going to be president some day.”

Davie High students, too, are working their way around this roadblock with the future in mind. They may have missed a few things, but college is just around the corner, a first job is within sight, a new world is out there just waiting to let them know where they fit in. They’ll graduate on Saturday, June 13, and parades through Mocksville have been planned to give everyone a chance to let them know we care.

Yes, the Class of 2020 is something special.

Talk to them. Encourage them. Congratulate them.

You’ll walk away realizing that no matter what the roadblock, they’re going to be OK. We’re going to be OK.

— Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.