OPINION: The best lesson for the Class of 2020 is learning to adapt

How far we have come since mid-March. All was well until the NBA, then the NHL, suspended their seasons. That was the point when things got serious and everything shut down. Even then, we were told it would be a long time of isolation – maybe into the summer.

Here we are, just two months later, and things are slowing starting to open again. The curve has flattened, new cases seem isolated, and we have all learned that the new way to be courteous is to stand back six feet and smile. For the most part, we have adjusted well to a new normal. Who knows where we will be in another month. Hopefully, some of the decisions that have been made can be reconsidered, especially for the Class of 2020.

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We recently got the news that all the ceremonies for this year’s grads were being cancelled, to be replaced with a video ceremony. Understandable, given the state we are in. I can see the formal parts not going ahead – the ceremony and the events afterwards are somewhat crowded affairs. The one that got me the most was the Grad Walk.

I have always found the Grad Walk to be something very special. I don’t know of anywhere else that it’s done. It really fits our communities in South Delta, these small towns that celebrate the local high school graduates as they finish one phase of their lives and transition into the next. It’s as much for their benefit as it is for the rest of us.

With all the planning involved for the other grad events – booking halls and caterers and the associated expenses – it makes complete sense to cancel those. We learn more about the virus every day, and fortunately we seem to be doing better and better as we progress. B.C. is one of the best managed constituencies in the world.

I’m hopeful that, by mid-June, we will be in a place that we can reconsider the Grad Walk, even if it’s modified to suit the times we are in. Reports have indicated the virus has very limited, if any, transmission outdoors. Given this is the only outdoor event, perhaps it can take place.

Maybe we make the Grad Walk longer, as some have suggested on Facebook. Close down a few streets and have the grads parade further so the rest of us can distance ourselves. Maybe we stagger it, having grads in groups of 30 spread out over the course of the whole day. Maybe the grads walk by themselves, instead of holding hands with a date as they have in the past.

Where there is a will, there is a way. Make everyone wear masks. No parties beforehand, just show up at your designated time, keep your distance and take your place.

I believe this is as much about a ceremony for the kids as it is a show of confidence, the willingness to persevere in the face of a challenge. They will learn throughout their lives that when the going gets tough, they have to be creative and deal with issues. It’s also a signal to them that the future isn’t bleak, there is hope, we just have to adapt.

School may be over, but the learning has just begun.

Brad Sherwin, MBA is a long-time resident of South Delta, and has over 30 years’ experience in marketing, public relations and business strategy. He teaches marketing at Douglas College, coaches hockey goalies and is past president of Deltassist.

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