Dear 2020 Graduate...

By Rev. Rebecca S. King  •  June 05, 2020


Graduation. Coming from a root word meaning “step,” it is a time to celebrate the work a student has completed in order to move on with the next phase of their life.  This year, graduation ceremonies look and feel different from traditional ways of celebrating due to the pandemic. While some schools have postponed or cancelled graduation ceremonies, other schools have found unique ways of celebrating this milestone in the life of their students. There are schools celebrating graduation via Zoom and social media. Other schools have held drive-in or drive-by graduation ceremonies. Students at some schools were invited with only their parents to witness them walk across a stage to receive their diploma. There were schools that taped students receiving their diplomas with few people present and then created a video to look as if the entire class was present for the ceremony. No matter the creative way schools have been holding ceremonies, what the graduation celebration importantly brings to the student is a sense of closure as they take that next “step” in their life.


As the mom of a 2020 high school graduate, graduation has been a topic of interest in our home. We felt sad when we realized that a traditional ceremony was not going to happen. Later, we experienced joy as we celebrated my daughter’s accomplishments at a drive-in graduation ceremony. We are not alone, however. In our community, everyone — even those without a 2020 graduate in their home — listened and/or watched the ceremony as it was live streamed. Our community grieved the losses felt by the 2020 graduates and wanted to participate and cheer them on during this celebration. Regardless of whether or not the graduate the community knew the graduate, each graduate received cheers and well wishes. It was a great reminder that, although the pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world, causing the cancellation of many events, love has not been lost.


At one point during the spring, many people on Facebook were posting graduation photos as a way of demonstrating solidarity with the 2020 graduates. These photos helped people reflect upon their graduation celebrations. As I viewed the various senior photos of my friends, I wondered about the older adults in my life. What was their graduation ceremony like?


I began talking with older adults about their graduations. I heard stories of joy. They talked about the sense of community they experienced. Each of them talked about how they grieved for the 2020 graduates and their many losses. As the older adults shared their stories and talked about the class of 2020, I wondered if they had words of wisdom to share with those graduating this spring. Most were happy share a piece of wisdom. The following are words of inspiration for 2020 graduates from older adults in my life:

“Make your own decisions.”
“Learn everything you can.”
“Work hard.”
“Be kind.”
“Be appreciative.”


I encourage you to speak with the older adults in your life about their graduation celebrations. What were they like? How did they celebrate? And, find out what words of inspiration they have for the 2020 graduates. Our older adults have words of wisdom to share, they simply need a listening ear. Blessings in your listening. Blessings in your sharing. Congratulations to the class of 2020!

About the Author

Rev. Rebecca S. King

Having served as pastor at Community UCC in Fort Seneca, Ohio for three and a half years, Rev. Becky King currently serves as the chaplain at Fairhaven Community in Upper Sandusky, Ohio and as the dean of chaplains at United Church Homes.

View all articles by Rev. Rebecca S. King