Every graduation class is unique, and something its students remember for their whole lives. This year, we must thank you, Class of 2020, for sharing your special moment with all of us. While you seniors suffered the disappointments of missed athletic seasons, college visits, proms, time with friends, and senior trips, we are all grateful to you for allowing us to find a unique and sweeping unity in your eventual celebrations.
Everyone in Georgetown, and the nation, has been of one mind in our sympathy for you at this moment, which you have worked so hard for, and cannot be repeated. As a group, the Class of 2020 was singled out, long ago in this crisis, for our collective concern and collaborative creativity. While vacations, gatherings, and even weddings can be rescheduled, we are all so happy that our teachers, leaders, and communities worked so purposefully to make this singular event as special as possible for you.
After months alone in our homes, it was a blessing to have a parade, adoptions, virtual celebrations, and even fireworks—in your honor—but for everyone to enjoy.
We, the citizens of the 2020 world, thank you for a reason, and the opportunity to celebrate with you; not just your achievements and future plans, but a conspicuous acknowledgment that we are all still here, and we are together. With so little to celebrate, thank you for giving us one beautiful thing we can all agree on and savor for whatever might come ahead.
At the same time, not every class will go down in the history books, nor will most of us be able to tell our grandchildren what it was like to be in a generation whose childhood was inexplicably bookended by national crises like we’d never seen before. Your graduation will be remembered by everyone in the world, for the rest of all of our lives.
Leave it to a principal (below) to say it best…but meanwhile, all our gratitude, love, and wishes for success!
Sincerely, Everyone Else
”Consider the classes of 1939, 1949, 1959, and 1969. Some of those individuals likely missed their graduations as well. Millions of Americans even left home in the middle of their senior year, often by the choice of their nation. But the senior classes in those time periods were ordinary people like us, who went on to do extraordinary things. The class of 1939 helped end the Holocaust and defeat the Nazis. The class of 1949, 1959, and 1969 pushed back Communism, fought for civil rights and put a man on the Moon. While every generation has made significant contributions to our nation and our world, these generations were dramatically impacted by events around their graduation days, then went on to dramatically changed the course of human history. Yes, the graduating class of 2020 may have missed prom and other things, but they will grow from the impact this will have on them. They will be our next ‘Greatest Generation’.”
~ Rob Dyer, Richarte High School
Graduation weekend began with one of the largest parades Georgetown has ever seen. More than 250 cars registered for the Senior parade, and many more showed up at 8am to participate in the (appropriately spaced) parking lot party that preceded the drive. Students drove themselves, or were chauffeured in everything from vintage muscle cars to a stretch limousine, with many trucks, jeeps, and convertibles rounding out the view.
Our School Board Trustees (below) were at the courthouse to greet and cheer for the students, and Elizabeth McFarland summed up the morning perfectly;
Elizabeth says she is already working on her Jeep design for when her own Class of 2021 student matriculates. But, no telling if the parade will continue for future seniors. Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent—front and center to cheer for the kids—says he has already been asked MANY times if the ISD will repeat what looked to be a great success.
The trustees weren’t the only ones working hard to make things special. From Spring Break to the end of school, teachers, principals, and administrators managed to do their regular jobs, while preparing and planning for eventualities, many of which changed by the minute.
There’s no way to know what things will look like when this class is 40 years old, but we can’t even imagine yet what they are going to do when they get there.
~ Richarte Principal, Rob Dyer
Richarte principal Rob Dyer says, “All the principals had to come in, throw everything on the table, and come up with a plan for education and graduation at the same time. Graduation is a lot of planning in a normal year, and it was more difficult that we couldn’t be together. With all three high schools graduating over one weekend, even the smallest details were unknown; e.g., where do you get what you need if everything is closed? But we did it. For instance, all the local florists were unavailable, but our East View students created the arrangements, and they look beautiful.”
As an added bonus to the new guidelines, 2020 marks the first year that Richarte High School was able to hold graduation in the stadium…and the weather and the sunset were perfect.
Superintendent Dr. Fred Brent may well have been speaking for everyone present when he addressed the assembly; “I just want to hug each one of you because I haven’t seen any students for months!”
ONE GRADUATE’S STORY
Rachel Carlile isn’t even a senior, but she is the #5 graduate in her class, and a quintessential example of the mix of adaptability and compassion that distinguishes her peers.
This fearless 16-year-old graduated from Richarte, and is already prepared and packed for her departure date in August. She also has a plan far beyond even that. Like many young people, this year cost her the experience of her first job, which closed its doors on her first day of work, but she is ready to go again as soon as her summer courses begin.
Rachel has committed to getting her CNA certification over the summer, then will head to Angelo State and, later, the University of Texas to study botany. After college she wants to go into the Air Force. “I always did want to help people, but I also am the person who can work with rough stuff every day and keep going.”
In spite of everything 2020 did to her, her life plan is still rock solid. “I want to put in my 20 years in the military and take my pension, so I can go on to be a botanist and an activist without being concerned about making a living. I want to be the expert who walks into a courtroom or U.N. meeting and tells people how and which things they need to change.”
Rob Dyer says Rachel is typical of Richarte students, as well as most kids in her generation. “Our programs are not just apples to apples, but more like apples to grasshoppers. These kids are very detailed and have thought things out. Growing up in a post-9/11 world, having always had the Internet, and a sense of being connected, even though they may have missed a milestone or a rite of passage, I think these kids will make great changes. They will be the ones asking, ‘Why are we still doing things this way?’”
Rachel agrees; “I think kids will take these lessons into adulthood. We have to learn from 2020, be careful with our guidelines and rules, because there will always be people who want to control the situation. Our generation has seen how the world has handled this situation and I feel like we will be the ones to come up with medical or political advances that will make countries talk to each other more, be more transparent, and be willing to hear what people have to say. We have seen the clear canals in Venice, and the mountains appearing over India. We’ve seen what’s possible from this unexpected event, so let’s do that on purpose in the future.”