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OUR VIEW: Community stepped up to honor Class of 2020

It’s been a difficult year for everyone, but one group missed out on some of the most important milestones of their lives because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 360 students who are part of the George Rogers Clark High School Class of 2020 left school in mid-March because of the pandemic, most likely not realizing it would be the last time they would step foot into a classroom together. Most probably never imagined they would miss out on some of the best times of their high school career because of a potentially deadly outbreak of a virus.

Unfortunately, that was the case. The Class of 2020 missed out on things like their senior breakfast, senior skip day and prom. They didn’t get to cheer on their classmates for the final time as they headed to the Sweet 16 basketball tournament. Many of them missed out on the final season of their own beloved sports. And, ultimately, they missed out on the opportunity to have a traditional graduation where hundreds would gather to acknowledge their biggest accomplishment to date — finishing high school.

As sad as it is that these students missed out on these incredible memories, and realizing they can never get those moments back, the community truly rallied to make sure these students felt seen and celebrated.

The school district did a phenomenal job quickly organizing a way for students to still receive their diplomas. Students scheduled short minutes-long graduation ceremonies, and were allowed to invite four guests. The district hired a local photographer and videographer — Spectrum Photography and Eppic Films — to document the ceremonies, and a complete graduation video should be released any day now.

But the community went a step further. A group of mothers with students in the Class of 2020 raised thousands upon thousands of dollars to give to the students. They bought special gifts and gave each student a swag bag on four occasions in May. They also held weekly raffles, giving away some big ticket items to students, some of which were purchased with the money raised, and others were donated by local businesses.

Finally, this weekend, graduates paraded around town in their vehicles as their families, friends and neighbors cheered them on.

The Class of 2020 will forever remember their graduation for a lot of reasons, but it won’t be because they felt unloved by their community.

We commend all those who had a hand in making sure graduation 2020 was one for the history books.

Editorials reflect the opinions of The Sun’s editorial board. To request a meeting with the board, email Editor Whitney Leggett at whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com.