Commentary: Congratulations to the graduating class of 2020

By Peter E. Carter

Young ladies and young gentlemen, your slightly older parents, and even older grandparents, aunts and uncles: Welcome to your farewell to the school world at a most strange time in our universe.

Our United States of America is 108,000-plus people smaller as a result of this unusual pandemic known as COVID-19. You would usually be gathered in a gym or in an arena regaled with caps and gowns, being vocally cheered by the audience and by one another. One by one, you would ascend unto a stage or platform and be handed a diploma by a respected and adored school employee, an adult who knows and is proud of your accomplishments both academic and athletic.

The word congratulations would be uttered to you, and your name announced in tune with that remark. A personal acknowledgement in a crowd of many! Parents and other relatives are holding flowers and other representations of the feelings we all have for you as graduates from high school or college.

However, this year is different, very different! You are probably being viewed in an electronic box on a screen and/or viewing others in a similar venue. There may be many to hold responsible for this unfortunate set of circumstances, and also perhaps no earthly person to blame. This open address to you goes far beyond any finger-pointing; it is intended to stimulate your thinking more than ever with regard to what you have accomplished, and what you can and shall accomplish moving forward.

The class of 2020 is indeed very special, and perhaps more than graduates who preceded you and shall follow you, much is going to be expected of you. As you move forward into adulthood, you will realize more than any other graduating class the absolute necessity of being prepared when hints of something ominous are present. You will understand that truth is so much more important and essential than fiction. And most of all, I know you will appreciate and understand how precious life really is, all people’s lives, and how we must embrace and enjoy and respect it.

Graduates, my hope and wish for you is that you are granted decades upon decades of future achievements from the workplaces of your choice and the spouses of your choice. May you seek and find every opportunity to make the world a much better place, and make yourselves and others much better people. May you love and appreciate your parents, your brothers and sisters, and immediate and distant relatives. May you cherish all those who participated in your educational and social growth, and perhaps even one day, choose to do the same. May you become whomever it is you want to be, hope to be and can be.

So, as you bid a virtual farewell to your high school or college or technical school, unable to look around and hug your classmates in celebration, or throw those mortarboards in the air, meditate quietly as to what you shall do and will do to improve the state of Delaware and our great country for those who shall follow in future generations.

Peter E. Carter served as a school administrator in Delaware, New Jersey and New York.