Tom Stangl

It’s graduation season. The school year is coming to a formal close and even though this year has been far from normal, the rites of passage are once again upon us.

There are very few moments in our lives that clearly delineate moving from one season to another. Graduation is clearly one of these moments and it is all together fitting and proper we pause to celebrate the accomplishments of our loved ones.

I used to joke that without passages of life like graduation, many renovation and home improvement projects would never get done. In our deepest selves, we understand the importance of these moments to the point that we are even willing to go through the added stress of replacing carpet in the living room. Think about that. It’s really a pain to tear up and put down carpet. It’s such a pain that you only want to do it a precious few times in your life.

I was thinking this past week about the extra special life lessons learned by the Class of COVID-19. There are many, but I wanted to talk about a few here.

Nothing in life is certain. At some level, we all know this but until we are faced with the cold, hard reality of the situation, it’s easy to brush this law of the universe aside. I doubt anyone would have guessed school buildings would have effectively closed in March for the school year.

In an average year, making that bet would have been even more insane than Powerball.

You can overcome many things in life. This fact is used many times in addresses to graduates. The Class of 2020 has learned this lesson over the past two months. From cancelled sports seasons to the loss of prom and even a formal graduation ceremony, seniors and their families have had to overcome a great deal of disappointment. Time will eventually ease these traumas, but that is cold comfort today.

In the end, family is there for you. If we have learned nothing else from the past two months of quarantine, we have learned that even if they drive you mad, your family will do what is needed to ensure you succeed.

From extended help with everything from math to physics to finding creative ways to learn, your parents walk the walk of loving care. You have to love someone to do trigonometry voluntarily.

And if you think they would have gone nuts at your graduation, you can only imagine the ends they are going to now to try to compensate for what COVID-19 has taken from you.

Cut them some slack, we are all in unimagined, yet unchartered waters.

To parents, do what you feel is right. Take solace in the fact you have brought your children through a pandemic to the cusp of adulthood. You persevered over Snapchat, peer pressure, vaping and the internet, you can get though the next few weeks.

Your extended family, the community, is celebrating with you, even if they can’t be with you. The community loves these passages. A speaker at my oldest daughter’s graduation said commencement was like the launching of a ship. Many people played a role in the construction and wanted to be there for the christening. We all hold our breath as the ship rolls into the sea, bobbing until it finds its equilibrium.

Even if we can’t see the ceremony, we are still very proud of you.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

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