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Constance Alexander: Here’s to the incredible Class of 2020, may your memories live as long as you do

All over the country, teenagers are missing the pomp and circumstance associated with graduation. When schools closed in March, it was uncertain how long lockdown would last. Soon after, it became clear that staying home and social distancing were essential to prevent further onslaught of COVID-19.

For the Class of 2020, school was out forever.

No more homeroom, lockers, or lunch periods. Forget the prom, class trips, baccalaureate, and even graduation. With online instruction, the re-boot of 2020 began, an unfinished symphony of sorts.

The impact of this was lost on me until the other morning. Watching a young neighbor and her mother place signs on the front lawn to celebrate her graduation from CCHS, I choked up, flooded by my own memories of high school graduation.

For me, seventeen was a very good year. We were seniors, old enough to drive and close enough to maturity to catch glimpses of life after high school. The closer it got to graduation, the better we felt because we had endured — and mostly recovered from — teenage angst associated with unrequited loves, chronic embarrassment, and constant struggles to fit in or stand out.

There was light at the end of the tunnel, and it was Jake H. commandeering The Beast: Brights on; horn blaring; driving straight through a red light at midnight, where Grove Avenue crossed Route 27.

After spring break, what lay ahead were milestones paving the way to graduation. Prom, a couple of senior trips, various award ceremonies, the arrival of the yearbook, and then commencement, brought us together as one class before we went our separate ways.

In my school, Senior Assembly, an annual ritual for the graduating class, challenged us to create a performance. Typically, it was a volley of parting shots aimed at the town, the teachers, the principal, and life in general. Under the patient direction of Jerome Hurley, drama teacher, we fashioned a script rife with sarcasm and slapstick.

Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at constancealexander@twc.com. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

We had lifted tunes and penned new words to songs from various Broadway musicals of the day. “Flower Drum Song,” and “Little Me” are the two I can recall.

In between songs and skits were various takeoffs on high school life. We thought it was particularly hilarious when we interrupted scenes and chanted,

“Ring-a- ding-a-ding-ding. We care a lot.”

That was our reprise. “We care a lot,” extrapolated from “Camelot,” was the Broadway hit that lent its title to the era of John F. Kennedy, who’d been assassinated in November of senior year.

Little did we realize that our generation was already marching toward the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam in the short-run, and a slew of personal milestones in the future. Weddings, kids, careers, travel, divorce — the usual highs and lows of a lifetime — were also marked by private and public tragedies in between.

So here’s to Class of 2020 from a member of the Class of ’64. Fear not. Your memories will last as long as you do. Years from now, you will still be in touch with many of your classmates, even those you were not close to in high school. One of the great things about growing up and maturing is that the old barriers can be erased. The things that kept people apart no longer matter the way they used to.

That’s what happened for us, and that is why, at the end of our silly Senior Assembly, we were able to link arms and sing, “Here’s to Us,” adapted from the Neil Simon musical, “Little Me.”

“…Here’s to us for nothing at all

If there’s nothing at all we can praise,

Just for spring and wanting to sing

And for feeling like flinging bouquets…”

So here’s to you, forever and always, the incredible class of 2020.

For some interesting facts about 2020 grads, go to www.insider.com.

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