Story Submitted by Mattea Muench

Everyone remembers their high school graduation. For some people, it was important, for others, it wasn’t, but everyone remembers it. Walking across the stage, shaking hands with faculty, holding a diploma, and smiling in photos with family and friends. Whether you’re 85 or 25, everyone has graduated high school the same way. Except for me, and the thousands of other high school seniors impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. When spring break was extended, we celebrated the extra time at home. But as weeks went on and the chances of us returning to school in-person set in, so did disappointment. Would we get to say goodbye to teachers? What about senior traditions? No prom? But most importantly, will we graduate? And how? Some schools immediately decided to host graduations virtually, while others, like mine, drew out their decisions until July, and left us hoping for a proper graduation, only to be disappointed. I didn’t realize how excited I was to graduate, surrounded by my friends and family, until it was taken away from me, and despite putting on a brave face and understanding that it was necessary to keep people safe, I was upset. Nothing, however, brings communities together like random acts of kindness, and boy did my community deliver. My church surprised all of its seniors with gift baskets and yard signs, and strangers bought my coffee for me countless times after seeing my decorated car in drive-through lines. After proper isolation, my friends and I were even able to have a mini-prom, complete with decorations, courtesy of our moms. Is virtual gradation going to make up for the life experience I have to miss? Maybe not, but the love from the people around me is more than enough, and it’s because of them that I, just like everyone else, will remember the spring I graduated high school.