Editorial: Congratulations, graduates!

High school graduation ceremonies are now being held, and the students involved have experienced a journey they could not have foreseen when they made the transition from middle school to high school.

COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic disrupted academic schedules and forced these students to focus not only on learning (and the many important social aspects of high school) but above all on keeping themselves, their friends and their loved ones safe. They became familiar with masks, the concept of social distancing and the importance of good hygiene practices (including the washing of hands repeatedly) as ways to combat the dreaded virus. They may have even lost loved ones to it, or not been able to hug a beloved family member because of it.

The students had to learn from home for the final two months of the 2019-20 academic year, and then decide with their families whether to remain virtual or resume in-person instruction this school year. That is a lot of pressure at a young age, but an experience that may serve them well going forward.

Students also received a crash course in how real-world events can apply to what they are learning. One area of study in high school is of course science. Students who paid attention to the news most likely heard "Trust the science" many times pertaining to the pandemic. But they may have also observed that the science on a topic such as COVID-19 may evolve, and this realization will serve them well as they continue their studies or enter the workforce. They have learned firsthand the importance of scientific inquiry and of constantly questioning rather than merely accepting what is told to them.

And they have learned how researchers developed vaccines to deal with the virus so that things can hopefully one day get back to "normal," or the new normal. They have seen the importance of study and learning in reshaping the world they live in.

So these graduates deserve our admiration and a hearty congratulations for enduring these many months of uncertainty and challenge and persevering through to the end. Their senior photos are spotlighted in our annual graduation section that is in today's newspaper where their smiles show the promise of the future.

Well done, graduates! We salute you!

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