This weekend honors our 2022 graduates. They say it takes a village, and I’m not sure our Liberty Bell High School students know that for this coming week, they are truly local celebrities. Heck, there’s even a parade in their honor. One silver lining of the pandemic: a beloved community tradition has emerged in the parade of grads where anyone can share in the pride and celebrate their passage alongside their more intimate familial and friendship circles.
The parade leaves Hank’s Harvest Foods at 4 p.m. Friday and proceeds down Glover Street, as each grad is graciously showcased in or on a vehicle ranging from pickups, Subarus and muscle cars to Teslas, evoking the diversity of the student body that is unique to the valley.
When the grad edition is printed in the newspaper each year it’s one of the most anticipated publications. Not only is it fun to go gawk at the beautiful graduation photos and learn where each student’s life is going, it imparts a sense of collective pride among the community at large who, perhaps unbeknownst to the grads, have some vested interest in these kids.
Be it sponsoring little league as small business, donating time or money to numerous youth-oriented nonprofits in the valley, volunteering at the school, tossing candy at a parade, watching a football game or cross country ski race, or helping a young mother out with her groceries, nearly everyone has had a little hand in the fostering and nurturing of the valley kids.
The class of 2022 marks the kids born the year I first moved to the valley. I won’t name names, but I met my first 2022 grad, a special young woman, while in utero at a Halloween Party at the Twisp River Pub whilst her pregnant mom was dressed like Mr. Potato Head. I hope she realizes her parents are still a bucket of fun.
The 2022 grads also mark the first class whose majority high school experience has been marred by the global pandemic. While previous ’20 and ’21 classes shared the devastation of the interruption, isolation and remote schooling, this class has endured 2 ½ years — over half their career navigating the pandemic in high school. Memories of pre-COVID high school will be few. It’s the beginning of a new generation; the kind historians will write about.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on college admissions, making elite schools more competitive and middle-of-the-road schools easier to apply to with the removal of standardized test score requirements. College-bound students dropped out or deferred enrollment during what Insidehighered.com termed “the great interruption” in ’20 and ’21 leading 2022 admissions to accommodate the kids returning to study, creating an influx of applicants to fill the backlog of demand for schooling and fill various re-entry and transfer spots. So, when you read where kids are going to school this year, take heart knowing that they had to work hard to get a spot in many of the schools represented by these graduates.
Congratulations to the class of 2022, may you go forth with the self-reliance and bravery of a pioneer, the creative soul of an artist to enrich your journey, and the eye of an eagle to see your goal and execute it with precision.