We haven’t forgotten the seniors.
The Liberty Bell High School class of 2020 has, instead of coming together to finish their final semester as Mountain Lions, been dispersed to their homes for weeks now in what would have been the home stretch of their final year. They are finishing their high school days online, absent the usual ritual and anticipation of what is a seminal life event. The traditional graduation ceremony in the high school gym will instead be something of an abstract event. If anyone even bothers to get a mortarboard, where would they fling it?
But the seniors deserve to be commemorated as a group. In years past, the Methow Valley News has published a section in the newspaper, usually just before graduation, with photos of all the graduates (including Independent Learning Center and home-schooled students). The students were “sponsored” by family, friends, and local businesses that offered encouraging words or simple congratulations. After the graduation ceremony, we published all the graduates’ names, their intended next steps in life, and awards and scholarships they earned.
This year we’re combing those efforts into a special section that will appear in early June (we’re still working on the exact date). Previously, the sponsorships supported publication of the special section. We’ll still be offering sponsorships. But because the Methow Valley School District is providing financial support for the graduation section, we’ve decided to donate all the sponsorship proceeds to the Public School Funding Alliance (PSFA), which supports a variety of valuable programs at local schools.
That way the sponsorships will do double duty — honoring the class of 2020 students, and helping their successors in the Methow Valley School District.
We’re working closely with the school district to gather all the necessary photographs and information. For 2020, we’ve lowered the sponsorship price to $50, but more money will actually go to the PSFA because the school district is covering production costs. If you’d like to sponsor a graduate, contact Sheila Ward at the newspaper: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 997-7011.
We know the school district is working on some graduation ideas to make sure the kids are acknowledged for their accomplishments. We hope that many of you will see the advantage of being part of that.
Are we ready for this?
If you were out and about at all this past weekend (and many of you “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” observers, of course, were not), you could not have failed to notice that there were a lot more people moving around the valley. Bike racks, kayak carriers, and travel trailers were here in numbers we haven’t seen for a long time.
The opening of the North Cascades Highway apparently engendered a new, more-generous definition of “essential” travel to include “so I can bike (or boat or hike or fish or sit in a lawn chair) in the Methow.” The weather was tolerable or better. This would typically be about the time people started showing up anyway, a week after Winthrop’s ’49er Days and before Memorial Day weekend.
Don’t misunderstand — I enjoy tourist season, and appreciate all the visitors who find this place so irresistible. Who can blame them for coming if they are able to? I want to say “welcome,” and yet … With state travel restrictions still in place, no restaurants open for outdoor dining, no public camping, restricted lodging and limited retailing, one had to wonder: What are all these people doing?
Well, some of them were camping in any semi-secluded wide spot they could find along one of our roads. Even that could charitably pass notice in these days of Phase I before we move on to Phase II and more opportunities for visitors and locals alike.
(I’m not talking about second-home owners. I think they are part of this community as investors, taxpayers, part-time neighbors, and avid supporters of everything we love about the valley. Whatever backlash there has been against them is unwarranted and short-sighted).
So let’s say we’re OK with more people being here because one thing that is undoubtedly essential is the survival of the Methow Valley economy. We all want to be accommodating.
But what bothered me was seeing so much disdain for COVID-19 protection protocols — no masks, no gloves, no spacing, no clue. I guess that’s what “freedom” looks like to some people. It looks like dangerous indifference to me and doesn’t seem especially respectful of this community, where many people have worked hard to keep coronavirus at bay as best they can. Like many destination points in the state, the friendly Methow is balancing a risks-versus-rewards equation, and hoping it calculates in our favor.