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May 21, 2021 · OPINION

Graduation’s meaning greater than celebrations

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Kettle Run High School’s graduation in 2017.
By Don Bachmann
Stops Along the Way

Hello Graduates,

I know that many of you are disappointed that your graduation ceremonies have been canceled, postponed or curtailed due to Covid-19. You were expecting a celebratory moment at a high point in your academic careers; instead, you are experiencing a deflated one. This seems to be the case more often than not.

My nephew, graduating from St. Andrew’s University in Scotland, had to deal with reduced family attendance. My next door neighbors’ twin sons are receiving their high school diplomas in an open field with a minuscule audience. Other family members are experiencing similar difficulties.

I was sorry to hear of these imposed limitations; but regrettable as it is, most realize the necessity of those actions. Knowing this, however, does not fully blunt the disappointment.

In the ’70s, I attended St. Benedict's College in Kansas and, due to my transfer from another institution, I approached graduation a few credits short of my degree. I struggled to make up the difference; but, having to work part-time, I couldn't do so in the allotted time. Consequently, I couldn't graduate with my mates at the semester ending ceremonies.

I was disappointed, but not as much as my parents. Their 250-mile trip from Illinois to Kansas had to be canceled; expectations went unfulfilled.

During that summer, I worked full-time to pay for room and board while attending classes. My parents took on extra work to help me get through. And, by summer’s end, I earned the needed six credits to graduate. My diploma, rolled up in a cardboard container, arrived by mail without any other acknowledgement.

Years later, when I reflected upon those times, the disappointment I felt then was replaced by gratitude – gratitude to so many who helped me achieve my goal. I realized that the accomplishment was not diminished by the lack of festivities; but rather, it was enhanced by my family's support and added efforts. That realization far overshadowed any formal ceremonies.

In any event, I hope you spend a moment to think about those who helped you reach this point in your life. For, in truth, none of us is alone and our accomplishments in life are rarely solo achievements. They can usually be traced back to others; a parent, mentor, teacher etc., who were there when we needed them the most. That is what matters; and, upon reflection, that is what should make all the difference to you.

May your futures all be bright.

The columnist lives near Orlean.

> County’s public high schools adapt their graduation plans.
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