By Dr. Katie Jarnot
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
All around the globe, people are rapidly adapting to sweeping changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Traditions, celebrations, and milestones have to be celebrated differently.
The graduations for Eagle County School District seniors are going to be virtual, and while it isn’t what anyone wanted, we are choosing to focus on the positive, follow school traditions, and make the end of the year as special as possible for all of our students who are transitioning from kindergarten, fifth grade, eighth grade and, of course, our high school seniors.
Staff members at each high school planned the virtual presentation, and Eagle Valley High School teacher Hannah Shapiro, media and journalism students, as well as a group of EVHS alumni, have worked tirelessly on the production. Not only will these presentations highlight the skills of our students, but their participation ensures the final product has been crafted with heart.
While the ceremonies are virtual this year, the emotions are real. The parents of the class of 2020, the students, and school district staff are very proud of our graduating seniors. Graduation is a bittersweet moment for everyone this year, just as it is every year.
For parents, it’s a milestone for their child as well as a capstone for parenting. Parents see their children mostly grown up and ready to transition into adulthood. I haven’t met a parent yet who wasn’t thrilled at their child’s success and still wishing they could turn back time.
For students, graduation is like an official stamp of independence. They completed the marathon, have a few minutes to catch their breath, and are taking the next steps toward their future. It’s exciting and terrifying all at once. Students are ready to finish and begin the next chapter while also worrying about losing touch with close friends and venturing out into the world.
For teachers, and principals, and this assistant superintendent, these kids are a big part of our lives, too. Graduation is a moment of professional pride for educators. We’ve seen these students grow, and helped them learn, and mature over time. We know they’re ready and are happy to have helped these students be ready for what’s next, but we are reluctant to let them go.
This year, it is even harder since we’re used to hugging, high-fiving, and fist-bumping our students as they leave us. We want to say, eye-to-eye, “good luck, you’ve got this.” We want to see the smiles and tears of the moms and dads and give them a hug too. We want to hear the cheers and whistles from family members and friends as their graduate crosses the stage.
Regardless of the presentation style, the emotions remain real. High school graduation is a community celebration. We’ve all pulled together to provide the best learning experiences for our children and send them confidently off to adulthood with our best wishes and the skills they need to pursue their dreams. That’s a big deal. It is a sign of what a community can do out of love for its children. Congratulations seniors! History will call you the Class of Resilience, and we will always call you family.
Dr. Katie Jarnot is the assistant superintendent of Eagle County Schools. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.