Standing Proud During a Pandemic

The coronavirus has taken a lot from this year’s seniors. As the virus accelerated from another country’s news to shutting down our nation in a matter of weeks, we were reminded of how quickly situations can change.

Thirteen long years: from counting to calculus, finger painting to physics, nap time to National Merit. We spent lots of long hours doing last minute science projects or trying to get that essay written in one day.

Then March hit. All the events we looked forward to – senior prom, graduation, among other long-anticipated traditions – seem stripped from us unfairly. The rewards for our dedication seemed nowhere to be found.

But what if the reward was not just limos at prom, traditional ceremonies, or hangouts with friends at the end of senior year?

We spent so much time dreaming of things yet to come that we forgot what was right in front the whole time: our teachers, mentors, parents, and peers guiding us every step of the way.

The relationships we cultivated, the relationships we lost, the times we jumped for joy, and the times we cried, these memories make the academic journey meaningful.

It’s not the one-night dance or the one-time celebration of graduation but the day-to-day.

Our journey culminated in how we treat each day, not the temporary events of celebration. The good days, bad days, hard days, easy days, the days you felt like going to school, and even the days you did not. The days when you thought you hated your teachers and the days when you realized you loved your teachers because of their dedication to you. The mindset and perspective we developed through all the highs and lows prove how far we came through our education. While the parties and ceremonies formally mark the ending of this chapter, the daily lessons we experienced truly show how far we have grown and matured.

So, class of 2020, your frustration, disappointment, anger, and plethora of other emotions are real and valid. We hear you, and we mourn with you. Do not let anyone invalidate your feelings. However, please remember that this lackluster culmination of your grade school career cannot take away any of its meaning.

COVID-19 has taken so much. But you have the choice not to let it take away the joy, pride, and growth that you earned and deserve after these years of hard work. Remember to be grateful for every person who helped you along the way. And stand proud despite the heartbreaking situation. You earned it.

Mason Morland and Savannah Sims are co-valedictorians for Trinity Christian Academy. Sims was featured as a Youth on the Rise in the 20 Under 40 section in April.

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