What?! Now Graduation is Cancelled??

The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Education have issued a joint statement which basically wipes out the idea of a traditional graduation ceremony for our high school seniors, and college seniors as well.  We feared this might happen, but now it’s real.  I named my children for this moment…their high school graduation when the principal carefully annunciates their full name – first, middle and last—so regal-sounding,  in front of their peers, teachers, administrators, and proud family members who are hooting and hollering (just like all the other families, despite being told to hold all applause!).  Okay, well maybe I didn’t pick their names just for graduation, but I definitely thought about how it would sound as they crossed that stage.  When else do we use their full name other than when we’re yelling at them?!  And now, due to the pandemic, that long awaited moment will not come to fruition.  Instead, we may be attending a virtual graduation or watch a masked, gloved administrator hand them their diploma through the car window like an order at McDonalds (minus the fries).   As the mom of a current high school senior, the graduation cancellation hit hard.  I was particularly looking forward to my son’s graduation because, for the first months of his life when he was in the NICU, I wasn’t sure he would graduate.  And for the first few years of elementary school, when he needed loft strand crutches to walk, I wasn’t sure he’d be able to physically walk across that stage.  But after all of the surgeries, therapies, and hard work – he can do it! He CAN walk on his own across that stage to get his diploma, but I won’t get to see it happen.  It stings.  I took my day to mourn, and now it’s time to move on and deal.  We can’t change it, and there’s no one to blame.  It’s the first lesson of adulthood for these graduating seniors: Things don’t always go as planned, and we can’t control that, but we can control how we choose to respond.  To all of the disappointed families and students out there, I encourage you to make the most out of it.  It’s STILL their senior year.  They’re STILL going to be high school graduates.  They’ve STILL accomplished all that they have.  COVID-19 can’t take away all of the accomplishments they’ve earned, the friendships they’ve made, the experiences they’ve had, or the memories they’ve given us as their parents.  Take this time to savor the school memories—maybe make a video out of all the pictures you’ve collected through the years and watch it as a family or upload it to YouTube to share with family and friends.  Or sit down and write an old fashioned letter to convey your genuine appreciation to the people who supported or encouraged your child along the way-amazing educators, friends, bus drivers, or other school staff.  And keep looking forward to all of the new adventures that lie ahead for our children–we have a front row seat to watch it all unfold!

Posted in Blog, Special Education.