It’s easy to dismiss their disappointment as trivial.
In our new world — where tens of thousands of people are dying of this horrible virus, where businesses are closing, where millions of people have lost their jobs — the disappointment by our young people of being deprived of a high school or college graduation ceremony seems almost laughable.
With all this going on, you’re whining about not being allowed to suffer through a 3-hour ceremony in the heat so some school administrator can hand you a piece of paper they could have sent you in the mail?
But their disappointment is not inconsequential at all.
Just because their priorities don’t align with our priorities doesn’t mean what they want and feel has no merit.
Just because an event they find important isn’t important to those of us already living in the real world doesn’t make it any less consequential.
This is their time in the spotlight to celebrate their accomplishments and to have family and friends and the community honor them for reaching this milestone.
If we look back on our own lives, we might recall that life in school wasn’t always so easy. Learning is challenging. Growing up is complex and not always pleasant or satisfying.
So we must take every opportunity to give them this day.
And remember, it’s not just the graduates for whom this event is important. Think of the parents and grandparents and other family members who’ve made sacrifices so these children could get to this day. Should they also be deprived of this moment? Should brothers and sisters not be allowed to share in their sibling’s pride?
Just like looking at photos of exotic locations can’t compare to the experience of visiting them in person, virtual graduations are an inadequate substitute for real graduations.
Yes, schools and colleges have done an admirable job trying to make them entertaining and fun. But we can do better than virtual.
Let’s get creative.
Drive-in movie theaters and other large outdoor and indoor venues could provide an alternative to virtual.
The Times Union Center, for instance, could be one location. The 17,500 seat arena has reportedly put together a plan for hosting graduation ceremonies, under strict health guidelines, and could serve as a site for multiple area schools and colleges to stage their graduation ceremonies.
Even if it means postponing graduation ceremonies until late summer or fall or even the winter, while the venues work out the logistics with local and school officials, it would be worth the alternative of having no ceremony at all.
We only graduate high school and college once. After that, the world rarely gathers together to celebrate our achievements.
Most of us have had the experience.
Let’s do what we can to give it to this year’s graduates.
They’ve earned it.