2020 brought a major pause to the once freshman of the class of 2023. Yes, the graduation classes before them had experienced the majority of the high school years, and it was very disappointing to not have prom and a real graduation, but the class of 2023 lost a great deal of what it thought to be normal. A normal spring sport season, spring drama productions, spring dances, and finally becoming not the youngest group in school. The graduating class of 2023 is the definition of perseverance.
While attending Carroll County Public Schools graduating exercises for the class of 2023, there was one common theme in all the speeches…COVID, and what it took away from their teen years. The years of growth, changing, learning who they may want to be, and relationships with their peers. A year and a half stolen from their youth. Who could blame the students for being upset, frustrated, devastated, disappointed, and limited in what was supposed to be the most amazing time of their teen lives.
The 2022-2023 school year was the first normal year, their senior year. No limits on the amount of individuals in a space, no 6 feet apart, no virtual learning, and no mask requirements. There were homecoming dances and games, holiday celebrations, prom, and graduation. Some classes before the graduates of 2023 either missed out on or had limitations for returning to what we would consider normal life before COVID.
While the class of 2023 had to experience a not so normal high school experience, this class had numerous students that went above and beyond the service learning hours requirements, honor roll, dual enrollment, career connections, various extra curricular activities like drama, music, FFA, Skills USA, and sports. The long list of accomplishments is so impressive, and it truly showed that the class of 2023 did the best they could and made the best out of a bad situation. They didn’t let COVID win. They didn’t let COVID take away their youth. They didn’t let COVID take away their potential. The class of 2023 pushed back and showed COVID it was not going to ruin their high school years.
Students of the graduating class of 2023, congratulations. You did it. All of you learned valuable lessons that will help you and guide you in the real world. You made the most out of a situation that no one was prepared for. You rolled with it. You adjusted to some pretty weird situations to make it work. You wanted to have drama productions and wore masks just so you could perform. You wanted to play music so you covered your wind instruments so you could make sound. You wanted to play your sport so you played with no fans just to run on the field. You wanted to return to school so you were 6 feet apart from a friend. And when you had enough, you asked your parents to fight for you, and we did.
Congratulations Class of 2023! Good luck in all your new endeavors.
Content provided by Tara Battaglia (Carroll County Board of Education member)