Graduation will still happen this year — just differently

Q: After watching our son and his friends for the past year and a half planning their high school graduation, you can appreciate all of the disappointment we saw when the coronavirus ripped all of their plans to shreds and graduation had to be cancelled.

It has been hard. Graduation from high school was something that all of us took for granted.

We would like to tell our kids that everything will work out, using the same line that we have been handing to them for the past 13 years, but we know that it won’t work. We know that graduation as we have known it is not going to happen this year.

This is sad. What can we say to our son? How do we ease his disappointment? It is a tough one.

A: I would like to begin my answer to you by cautioning against feeling so sad, so unearthly disappointed. While it may be true that graduation as you know it is not likely to happen just about anywhere this year, that does not mean that the party is over.

Maybe the kids will be singing different songs to different bands but for most of them something of merit will happen.

Think of it this way. We have hordes of young people nurturing who knows how many creative thoughts. And with school closures being just about a universal phenomenon, these young people have all of that free time to fester in their obsessions with new-style grandiose graduations. So far, they have come up with some really good stuff.

In Calgary, for example, someone is playing with the idea of having drive-through graduation rituals. Imagine that? Dressing up and driving through a fast-food outlet, announcing your presence from your vehicle through the microphone that directs you to an open window where you will get, not a McDonald’s burger and fries but a piece of parchment with your name scrolled on the new grad list. Wouldn’t that be great?

Any number of communities are having parades, driving their parents’ trucks and cars through the streets and stopping at those houses otherwise known as homes to the new grads.

One community is putting out lawn posters on the designated graduation day, one poster per student and with that student’s name and graduation picture clearly pasted for all to see.

A number of communities are going virtual to bring their grad classes together, at least in form, and they promise to deliver those long and drawn out valedictorian speeches that sets off everyone’s memories in tears, through their computers.

Each graduating student gets his or her moment on a computer during which time he or she is announced to the world and the world awaits as they cross the electronic threshold from adolescence to maturity. Some of those whiz kids manning their computer can, without too much of a problem, paste everyone’s picture together into one massive graduation photograph. It will likely be a better picture than it would have been with a photographer on the scene and the whole class standing impatiently and waiting forever for him or her to snap the camera.

The students of graduation 2020 have opportunities to make a graduation like no other class before them did. They are going to do it and they are going to do it differently and as graduations come and go the class of 2020 will always be remembered for the passing of the parchment through coronavirus.

This is an opportunity like no other. I don’t think that we need to feel sad about it.

Jacklin Andrews is a family counsellor from Saskatchewan. Contact: jandrews@producer.com.

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