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Editor’s corner: Signature moment for grads

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Decorations on several of the more than 150 vehicles that crossed Kinzua Dam bearing members of the Class of 2020 celebrated the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers theme for the event — Best Dam Graduation.

It was a shining example of making a memory.

Three weeks ago, members of the Warren High School Class of 2020 traveled by car across the Kinzua Dam. At the mid-point, each graduate dressed in gown and cap was able to get out of their vehicle to receive their diploma from Principal Jeff Flickner.

“It’s been tough,” Warren High School’s Mariah Bailey told reporter Brian Ferry of the Times Observer. “This has been extremely special. They made everybody feel included.”

One moment in time. An event that will be treasured forever.

This weekend, school districts across Chautauqua County are celebrating an extraordinary group of high school seniors who have endured what seems to be an endless summer. COVID-19, since its discovery in the United States, has not discriminated. Everyone has been affected by this novel virus.

Millions have been infected and hundreds of thousands have died from this diabolical illness. Others, who may have never gotten sick, have been placed on furlough or permanently lost jobs they held for years.

For more than two months, we have been unable to get together or see older family members. Only in the last two weeks has there been a sense of some normalcy — and even then we are all wearing masks.

High school graduation, however, is a once in a lifetime moment. There’s no do-over.

For this class of seniors, here and in New York state, the time away combined with the waiting brought a roller coaster of emotion. Early on, some had elation over the unexpected time off and — because they are teenagers — being able to sleep in past noon.

As those days off turned into weeks, anxiety set in. What was going to happen to the spring sports seasons? What about the proms and senior class getaways?

Then the commencements came with some outstanding ideas to celebrate the seniors. It was a chance to laugh, love and cry with those you grew up with in school.

Let’s face it. If you have been to one graduation ceremony, including your own, you’ve been to all.

That was definitely not the case this year as those who attended “the best dam graduation” in Warren could attest. This year’s ceremony — for all school districts in our region– may likely be the most memorable of all.

Graduates here are now preparing for their next steps. The world, which let them down during a moment to shine, now awaits them.

This group is special. They have persevered and shown a commitment to excellence during this crisis. Those special ceremonies from earlier this month, without question, are as unique as you can get.

What a way to go out.

John D’Agostino is regional editor of the Times Observer, The Post-Journal and the OBSERVER in Dunkirk. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call (716) 487-1111, ext. 253.

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