Imagine there's no graduation. It's not easy, even if you try. Yep, Class of '20, this is your year, and what a year it's been.

Normally this time of year would be bustling with plans for DeSoto County High School's best, brightest, and eldest to be readying for an encouraging baccalaureate program, graduation practice, and the big moment of crossing that stage that has been a 12-year goal. Now, nobody's real sure just what "normal" is, and if we'll ever even get back to a semblance of it. The times, they are a-changin', sang Bob Dylan, some 56 years ago. Indeed.

I get it; it's not fair. Graduation is such an important and exciting tradition, and for something like a pandemic to come along and rob millions of seniors of their moment in the spotlight is unthinkable. Parents and grandparents are let down as well, plus so many teachers and school administrations who have been pulling for all these young men and women.

It is what it is, even if what it is stinks. However, that doesn't mean that the proverbial show won't go on. It'll just be different. Real different. This Friday at 7 p.m. there will be a "virtual graduation ceremony," via a giant Facebook party. I'm getting a Star Trek vibe here, as the seniors will be "boldly going where no class has gone before." So that's kind of cool. All that's got me wondering if there'll also be a virtual graduation party afterwards, but if it's like the ones thrown back in my day, the 1970s, I just can't see a pasture bonfire taking place online. That would be socially distant for sure, but also socially distorted, if you ask me.

The plan for an actual in-person honest-to-goodness graduation ceremony is supposed to take place way late, on July 31, and that will be at the Turner Center, pending CDC guidelines then. I hope and pray that takes place. The students of our community have worked hard for this moment, and I want each and every one of them to be able to march into the ceremony, hear inspiring speeches, cross that stage to get their diplomas, and have their tassels flipped. It's only right.

I love how our community has been supportive by families and friends showcasing seniors on social media and how each of their names is on a sign on our courthouse lawn. That makes me proud—we are Bulldog strong, DeSoto, and our kids deserve our love and encouragement.

The year 2020 will be long remembered as the year of the pandemic, and how virtually everyone on the planet had their life affected in one way or another. March came along, and suddenly the world's longest spring break happened, with teachers and students having to connect online by Zooming in order to cobble together what they could as continuing education. All grades rose to the challenge, exhibiting a can-do attitude that overcame the odds and made a difference.

It may seem like "one small step backwards for mankind," but it will be a leap forward in progress in that when the way seemed unsure, our school system pushed through into uncharted territory, like our own pioneer ancestors did right here in DeSoto County. Bravo.

Class of 2020, we are so very proud of you for not giving up, and for continuing to move forward to claim what you've earned. If anything is "up in the air" when July 31 comes, I hope it's only your countless tasseled mortar boards, tossed high in triumph.

Life 101 will continue to be in session afterwards, but you may just be able to teach it a thing or two about survival and progress. Go, Bulldogs!

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