02 UAC06102001A big thank you to everyone who reached out with positive comments about our commemorative 2020 high school edition. And an especially big thank you to Cumberland County Schools for allowing us to celebrate this year’s graduates with you!

I doubt any of us will forget the unique circumstances around this year’s graduation celebrations.

When my oldest walked across the stage a few years ago to receive her diploma, I could not have been prouder. Big days like this don’t just happen. For more than two decades, countless people invested in her and her peers. I remember pondering at the time how much it takes to educate a young person. This year, thanks to COVID-19, the task was exponentially more difficult, and watching everyone rise to the challenge was nothing short of inspiring.

My daughter is a product of the Cumberland County Schools system. I am thankful for everyone in it who contributed to her success: the teachers who pushed her to do her best; the ones who called her out when she was trying to get away with doing less; the ones who saw her struggle and offered encouragement; the ones who taught her how to be an independent thinker; the ones who taught her to love reading. I am thankful to the teachers who sponsored clubs that instilled in her a love of theater, debate, foreign languages, adventure and a sense of civility and love for her fellow man. I am thankful for the administrators who showed compassion when her dad was deployed and our family was struggling. I am thankful for administrators who were always kind and professional. My hat is off to the volunteers who spent time in her classrooms, held fundraisers to benefit local students and who helped in other ways I’ll never know. I’m thankful to all of them — and so many more.

Having good-hearted, solid leaders who care for children at the helm of our education system makes all these things an everyday occurrence in this community — even if it’s online and not in person. You can’t underestimate the impact teachers, administrators and school staff have on our young people. The impact of COVID-19 and the confusion of how to move forward were met with grace and common sense, making the most of a terrible situation.

In recent years, we’ve heard many comments about how protected this generation of Americans is. Are we really turning out a generation of easily-offended, emotionally vulnerable snowflakes? For all our good intentions, has the helicopter parenting, coddling and overpraising backfired? I hope not. I choose to believe not. After watching the amazing teachers, administrators and staff of this school system shepherd our young through one of the strangest schools years of our time and watching students rally, reset and complete what is likely the strangest school year they’ve known, I am confident. Confident in our schools and in our young adults who are going out into
the world.

Class of 2020, there are many challenges ahead … and just as many opportunities. I cannot wait to see what you do with them!

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