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Barry Lewis

Congratulations graduates

Barry Lewis
Posted 6/24/22

To the class of 2022, congratulations. You’ve endured and overcome some of the most trying and unusual years in generations, and you are an inspiration to us all.

I still can’t believe …

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Barry Lewis

Congratulations graduates

Posted

To the class of 2022, congratulations. You’ve endured and overcome some of the most trying and unusual years in generations, and you are an inspiration to us all.

I still can’t believe that it’s been 19 years since my oldest graduated high school. Our three boys, like so many sons and daughters were not star athletes, class officers or even high academic achievers, but students who accomplished so much by just being themselves.

They made their parents proud by simply working their tails off in school. Maybe they also squeezed in a job or helped around the house. Free time was rare, the juggling at times tedious, but they managed to pull it off.

I usually offer graduates some simple advice as they move to their next chapter in life. Stuff like: Make sure you say please and thank you. Have a good handshake. First thing people look at are your shoes. No one likes a sore loser. Wear clean underwear. Listen. It’s alright to cry. Don’t be stubborn. Enjoy what you do.

This advice remains valid. However, in this oddest of high school years, the Class of 2022 was sent home in March of their sophomore year to suddenly attend virtual learning. These students experienced educational challenges, pivots and experiments, and endured every uncertainty of the COVID-19 era.

They learned in person, remotely, in hybrid models and then in person again. They pushed through their junior year, often considered the hardest year of high school because of standardized tests, heavy course loads and college preparation, with less support and guidance than other graduating classes. Many lost out on taking part in academic, athletic and social events that we know are significant moments in their lives. The experiences we have in life shape us, enrich us and give us purpose.

In many ways the losses made today’s graduates more eager than ever to move on with life.

That’s understandable.

It’s hard to look for positives in situations like this. But we’re reminded that life is about dealing with challenges. And our ability to battle through adversity is the very thing that builds up our resilience to tackle them in the future.

In many ways, the struggles we all faced are the toughest we’ve ever imagined.

I urge the graduates to take a moment and think back and recognize the valuable lessons of your school career. Nothing should diminish those accomplishments.

We’re told that resiliency is an important key to success. It’s rooted in our ability to steer through everyday adversity and rebound from bigger setbacks. I’m sure that provides little solace for students and their parents who missed out on those big ceremonies. But they provide essential life lessons that will sustain them for years to come.

Not the knowledge built in the classroom; but the awareness gained — often the hard way — in growing up.

I used to think that maybe I could offer new graduates some pearls of wisdom. A quote from some Greek philosopher. Perhaps a biblical passage that they can pull out during troubled times. Words from a sage like Robert Frost about choosing between two roads. A quip from Groucho Marx. What Ward would tell Wally and the Beaver. But those would only pale as so many students seem to already know what’s important in life.

Congratulations class of 2022! It’s time to celebrate all your accomplishments in the most traditional fashion: the playing of “Pomp and Circumstance,” the handing out of diplomas and the sharing of fist bumps, high fives from classmates and the hugs from teary-eyed parents who couldn’t be prouder.

barrylewisscdemocrat@gmail.com

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