It wasn’t the graduation they anticipated, but Grand County High’s Class of 2020 was feted with a parade through town May 28 that ended at the school with students and their parents essentially participating in a drive-through commencement ceremony.
There wasn’t a single graduate who didn’t receive shouts of recognition, a cacophony of honking horns, or the duty of posing a few seconds while parents and other loved ones took photographs.
What was missing were live speeches, and that’s too bad because Valedictorian Jenna Hawks had wrote a good one for her classmates.
“My great-great-grandmother wrote a letter to her son towards the end of World War I,” she said. “She kept warning him “Keep your socks dry” and other equally random and questionable advice. Nowhere did she write about the immediate dangers of war and combat. Well, this was 1918 and the Spanish flu was running rampant in the streets.
“This seemingly unnecessary advice on hygiene kept that young soldier safe from contracting the disease. While our situation is very much different, I leave you with the same wise words contained in those letters. Keep your socks dry, Class of 2020. Sometimes disgusting and unpleasant things leak into our lives, seeping in without an invitation. It feels as if we are wading through waves of drainage water. But we persist. We pick ourselves and those around us up out of the cold wet water and dry our socks.”
She noted that whooping cough was going around during her class’s freshmen year, and that COVID invaded their final year. The adversity taught lessons. “With all this uncertainty now, I am certain of one thing: this group and this community. We can depend on one other to help pull us out of the gutters when we don’t have enough strength ourselves,” she wrote.
She paid homage to departed classmates Taylor Bryant and Zella Ceniceros. “They are with us today in our thoughts, prayers and actions.”
Hawks ended with one last nod to perseverance: “Congratulations Class of 2020 — you pushed forward in times of hardship and the payoff is grand.”
The parade and the awarding of diplomas was live-streamed on local television and radio stations.