DEAR CLASS OF 2021
DEAR CLASS OF 2021
By Eric Plaut
I have never been a fan of giving speeches. Unless it was something fascinating or I wanted to talk about it, then I’d let someone else lead the discussion. In this instance, however, a wise friend once told me:“Either make your speech three pages or five minutes—whichever is shorter!”
Those are good words to live by!
To begin with, it’s been a rough spring for you graduates. Depending on your location—whether it’s middle school, high school or college—you’ve spent either two or three years, or even four or five, working away diligently at your education. As your final semester was winding down in school so were social and extracurricular activities at your current institution. What once had been an infinite list of goals and dreams when you started at your school may not have all been met during your time there. However, there’s the one common capstone for all of you at the end of your academic pursuits: graduation.
Yes—graduation! Time to cue Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstances” when the senior graduates enter and exit the auditorium. Caps and gowns—hopefully in the same color—flow up and down the walkway in animated rivulets. The principal (or chancellor) greets the “distinguished” faculty, students and their guests. A few of the graduates give speeches that we hope go for no more than three pages or five minutes—whichever is shorter! Then the diplomas or degrees are handed out to the graduates. Afterwards they’ll turn their tassels from left to right before they head out of the venue to meet their ecstatic family and friends. It’s a way to end one’s schooling on a high note.
Now the celebration can really kick off! Where one’s academic career ends, another door opens up. A farewell to school will lead to another beginning be it college, work or whatever you’re looking at. Yet for now it’s time to continue to celebrate with family and friends. Take photos, get together with loved ones and document this milestone. Order in from your favorite eatery or go out to a fancy restaurant with family and friends. During the meal, make sure to raise your glass and toast your accomplishments. You put in many long hours and showed a lot of fortitude to reach that pinnacle in your life. You earned it!
Graduating from your intended institution is proof that part of your life is ready to begin a new, and hopefully happier, chapter. Sometimes one tends to move up to a higher academic level, for instance. You’ll head from elementary school to middle school. Then two or three years later, you will head up to high school for three or four years before heading off to the university level. Yet some high-school graduates have options other than college. Some may head to the work force, others may enlist into the military while a few people may look into trade school and learn a certain vocation such as carpentry or the tool-and-die industry. Whatever it is—it’s all good!
However, nobody could have expected this worldwide turn of events in 2020. Covid-19, known as the Corona virus, seemed to spring upon us. By March of last year, educational institutions and most businesses were rapidly shutting down. Grades from kindergarten to the university levelsnow had to learn their studies online via Zoom. College students who lived away from home had to pack up all of their belongings and books and move back in with Mom and Dad. Offices had to be transferredto people’s humble abodes whenever it was necessary.
Change is one of those things we all have to face throughout our lives. Some can accept and adapt to change well while others don’t. Whether one is meticulous or spontaneous, both sides had to realize that we were all on the same side of the coin this time around. The Corona virus could be considered our generation’s equivalency of what another’s parents or grandparents went through with World War II or the Great Depression. It becomes important for family and friends to stick together, help one another and listen to our medical professionals and scientists. These instances, along with time and patience, are needed to weather out this storm.
Yet not everyone was lucky enough to work or remain at home. Medical professionals, first responders and delivery drivers were only some of the employees who had to kick it up more than a notch. Those who were able to needed to literally go several extra miles on every shift they worked. We should be grateful and thank anyone working on the front lines. People needed to unite in battle in order to defeat this worldwide pandemic.
Everyone had to learn to deal with this crisis. And a word we all developed was resiliency. If we could learn and survive and help one another, everybody wins. Most of us had to face lockdowns even if we didn’t like it at times. Yet it’s still important to listen to our doctors, nurses and scientists over politicians who don’t seem to know what they’re talking about. In the long run, our health comes first. If you don’t have your health, everything else becomes mediocre.
During this Covid-19 pandemic, everyone was involved in this uphill battle. It could be considered our generation’s equivalency to the Spanish flu of 1918. Like today owners were then fighting to keep their small businesses afloat. They depended on our loyalty to their products they’re selling to consumers. While the Big Kahunas seemedto easily navigate within the business world, the little fish (small-business owners) hoped that they didn’t get caught in a big net of financial woes.A small business is a large part of the owner’s livelihood and his or her identity.
Maybe it does take more than a village to help others out! What everyone wants most is to be given a chance. And eventually it will be one’s turn to “Pay it forward!” Even if a few small businesses may not be able to donate to the local service club auction or Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) fundraiser, one can always purchase an item around $20 or $30 from them instead. Be certain that the storeowner gives you his or her business card as well. It can be placed along with the prize you bought to raise money for whatever charity or project. Buying stuffed animals or other items at high-school and college games is another way to help your local merchants. Also, the upcoming holidays such as Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanza are where small business owners really could use the sales at the end of each year! So try and help them out!
Finally, make certain to help yourself out. It’s okay to take time out for you. One does need to develop a routine for themselves, too. That concept may be why so many people lost focus during this pandemic. They were used to a routine with work, school, activities, taking care of the kids or pets, and running errands in between everything else. Being confined to one’s house made it seem to not be a home anymore. Our humble abodes were suddenly used for everything—24/7! Our homes were no longer our sanctuaries!
So what could we do about it? Continue having a support system is a great start. Everyone has their share of good and bad days. Maybe it isn’t as noticeableduring the good times. Yet when one does a one-eighty from that, it’s important that those we tend to rely on the most are there for us. There have been and will be times when that boot ends up on the other foot. Then we need to buck up and take charge whenever it’s necessary. It’s just how things are. And in the long run, it will show others what we’re made of, because it only made us stronger.
As for our humble abodes, it’s important to get out of the house each day. Whether it’s running errands or walking the dog around the block, those are ways to get fresh air and a chance to recharge your brain. It’s important to get out even it’s for a short while. This concept does not only apply to artists and writers. Any old saying can be tailored to suit your lifestyle. But if you want to begin an exercise program, just make sure to talk to your primary-care physician first!
So in closing while this year is a milestone for you graduates, 2020 and the beginning of 2021 had been trying years for all of us. Work and school have thrown many of us for more than a loop. Our sanctuaries we’ve affectionately dubbed as “home” suddenly became more of a place than to just live and sleep. But we can better ourselves from all of this in the long run! With a devoted family and caring friends, we can rise above this pandemic to do something even better. Whatever that is, it’s definitely up to each one of us.
Graduation may be the end of your academic studies, but try and continue to have an open heart and mind. An opportunity may be within a stone’s throw from you, or it may take a while longer to get to your next destination. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help whenever it’s necessary. Remember that we were put on this Earth to help one another. We’re now slowly rising out of Covid-19’s ashes like the rising Phoenix. Now it’s time to head in a new direction and make a difference with what we’ve learned in life and will continue to learn down the road.
Thank you to the Class of 2021graduates everywhere—and good luck in all of your future endeavors!!!