Class of 2020 gets unique but proper send off

By: 
George Browning

Just how interesting was the 2019-20 school year for the Class of 2020? It was so interesting that one of the student speakers, Kennedie Brough, quoted both Gilda Radner and Winnie the Pooh during her address during Saturday’s graduation ceremony.
“Gilda Radner once said, ‘I wanted a perfect ending, but I’ve learned the hard way some poems don’t rhyme and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it without knowing what’s going to happen next.’
“I feel like those words perfectly sum up the Class of 2020’s senior year,” Brough said.
Brough said when students left the building on March 13, they didn’t realize that would be the last of school inside the building.
She said since then, she and her classmates were wondering what the rest of school year would hold.
“Would we get the perfect senior year ending that had been in the works for 13 years?” she asked. “It seems like someone hit the pause button on the senior year and no one knew if or when we would be able to hit play again.”
Brough said the Class of 2020 missed out on a lot of things, but found a way to still make memories.
“We had one last ride to wave to the teachers we never got to say goodbye to,” Brough said. “We also had a senior class parade that the whole town showed out for.
“. . . Good or bad, we will always remember this place. It’s a place that pushed us to be better individuals and prepared us to be future soldiers, nurses, teachers, police officers and so many other things we will become!”
Speakers Addie Chastain, Melea Hardin and Rachel Fisher all had similar thoughts about their experience at Salem High School. They all expressed gratitude to parents, staff and administrators for all they did for them, not only in the last two trying months of the school year, but also for the work they did from kindergarten through senior year.
The speakers weren’t the only ones who were thankful.
“I think it was a blessing to be able to have this ceremony,” said Lydia Bontrager. “There were a lot of schools that didn’t get to do this.”
Bontrager was home-schooled through her sophomore year, but decided she wanted to attend Salem High School for her final two years to be able to take part in all the things that come with the final two years of high school.
When she made that decision no one could have forecasted just what a unique ending it would be.
“I came to high school so I could have the full experience,” she said. “It really meant a lot that they did this for us.”
Senior Class President Cora Saunders agreed. She said the Class of 2020 missed out on a lot of things seniors traditionally do, but she is glad graduation didn’t get added to the list.
“We missed all the fun little trips, senior skip day and things like that,” Saunders said. “Graduation is more important than those things, because this is what we have been working for the past 13 years. It was a blessing to have it. I am thankful for the people who worked so hard to make it happen.
“Even with the restrictions, we were able to come together one more time as a senior class. It was a good finish as we prepare to start the next chapter.”
A good finish and a fitting goodbye, which Brough used to sum up by quoting the honey-loving bear.
“Endings are inevitable,” Brough said. “Leaves fall, you close the book and say goodbye. Today is one of those days for us. As Winnie the Pooh once said, ‘How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard!’”

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