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Our Opinion: Hats off to the Class of 2021

This year’s seniors — all students in all grades, actually — have shown their mettle in making the best of a bad and prolonged situation.

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Congratulations go out to the Class of 2021.

In what has been an unprecedented year from start to finish, they have shown fortitude and resolve and made it through to graduation day.

A year ago, we editorialized in lament for the Class of 2020 throughout the area — and specifically the Brainerd seniors — who were robbed of their graduation ceremony by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent state guidelines barring in-person ceremonies.

For the Class of 2020, it was the year that ended in sudden, unprecedented fashion.

For the Class of 2021, the year both started and ended in what could only be described as a fantastically complicated year.

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Traversing COVID-19 could not have been an easy path for students or teachers. First starting with hybrid learning both at home and in school; to going to full distance learning; to a modified in-class model to close out the year. Having to learn a new way of doing things, whether that was getting used to wearing a mask all day in school and during sports, taking classes via a computer or being ready for wholesale changes in their education on the fly. Never mind stretches of not seeing friends in school or being able to talk one-on-one with teachers.

It all offered a whole new level of stress, but the students rose to the challenge.

In between, there have been canceled sporting events, virtual performances and socially distanced gatherings. Not the way anyone would want their senior year to happen. But it did, and our seniors did what they had to do. And, as of this writing on Thursday afternoon, there will be a graduation ceremony and prom — two things last year’s seniors weren’t afforded. Yes, things are looking up and slowly returning to something we’d consider closer to normal.

As with last year’s graduates, this year’s seniors — all students in all grades, actually — have shown their mettle in making the best of a bad and prolonged situation. Certainly there were setbacks, and not all students progressed or excelled in the way they normally might have but it was not a lost year for most. And who knows, perhaps the trajectory of 2020-2021 will teach the Class of 2021 a lesson they can carry forward on their future endeavors — that change can and will happen, often quickly, but we know we can adapt and succeed.

To our graduating seniors, we’d say good job on making it this far, and everyday forward is looking brighter than the one before it. So celebrate your achievements and this major milestone in life, Class of 2021. You have earned it.

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