Sixty years ago, I graduated with the Class of 1960 at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, Delaware. We had a fine class by any measure — academic, athletic and artistic. Our school spirit soared. Several devoted teachers and coaches prepared us well for the challenges that lay ahead. We did not excel, however, in diversity; our class of about 250 students included no African-Americans, no Asians, no Hispanics and only a handful of Jewish students.

I don’t remember our graduation very well, but I do recall being in the choir and singing the words “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high and you’ll never walk alone.” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical classic, “Carousel.”

Our class cruised through high school at a peaceful time with few national storms to dampen our spirits. We came along after the Depression and World War II and before Vietnam War protests and the struggles for civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights. We grew up in the “Father Knows Best,’ “Don’t rock the boat” era. We were happily ensconced in our homogeneous bubble.

That bubble recently burst a bit when we had to cancel our 60th Reunion because of the coronavirus pandemic. But don’t cry for us, America. Consider the immense challenges already faced by college students in the Class of 2020.

College students in the Class of 2020 were born right after the horrific 9/11 disaster. Their families fought through the 2008 recession. They spent most of their college years with a mean spirited divisive bully in the White House. And then came the coronavirus pandemic. In a flash, they lost the chance to enjoy their final college months in the company of classmates. They had to finish their courses remotely, no substitute for the real thing. Graduation plans were put on hold.

But, through tears of disappointment, they remained optimistic for the most part, undaunted, determined to celebrate somehow, some way. They

invented creative ways to stay in touch with classmates. Most colleges did their best to create digital graduations to commemorate the occasion. Some seniors managed to keep — or land — full time jobs for after graduation, although most of these jobs would begin remotely.

We had the privilege of watching the Bowdoin virtual graduation alongside Mamadou Diaw, one of the graduating seniors, who is now staying at our house. The people who created the video came up with the brilliant idea to have every senior submit several photos in advance for possible inclusion. The photos showed Bowdoin students in an incredible array of settings. A kaleidoscope of young people in the act of being themselves. As we were watching, I heard Mamadou say, “Darn, this is really getting to me.” He was also, naturally, texting with his friends the whole time. We, in turn, whooped it up whenever Mamadou appeared in a photo, which was often since he is so popular among his classmates.

My granddaughter Emma Barker, who will be entering Bowdoin in the fall, missed her last few months at Burlington High School (in Vermont). A positive young woman, she filled her time with reading and running and playing the violin alongside her talented musical family. And yes, she missed the chance to enjoy a traditional graduation, although her School cleverly filmed each graduating student wearing a robe and walking across the stage to get a diploma.

Brunswick High School held an outdoor graduation at Brunswick Landing. While walking around our neighborhood, we have enjoyed see signs celebrating a senior who lived in this or that house.

Happily, Bowdoin will give members of the Class of 2020 a “real” graduation next spring. Burlington High School and Brunswick High School will not sponsor do-overs. I guess members of the Mount Pleasant High School Class of 1960 will just have to forget the 60th reunion and celebrate our 65th in five years.

Meanwhile, we should all stand and salute the college (and high school) students who graduated in 2020. They held their heads up high, and we should honor them.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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