So far this year, the world has seen its fair share of mayhem. From bush fires to the coronavirus, it seems like the end of times, and yet life goes on. The light at the end of the tunnel is seemingly within sight, as health officials and researchers work around the clock to find a cure.
However, there is one group of people in this city who have been uniquely affected by this virus, and for them the finish line of this challenging time seems to be getting further away.
For the class of 2020, it has been one disappointment after another. We will never get to experience a senior night for our sporting events, attend our senior prom or annual signing day like dozens of classes before us have.
It seems as though many of our “lasts” happened during our junior year and the painful sting of that reality sits with all of us every single day. And now, this virus has taken our graduation, too.
To put things simply, we want our traditional graduation reinstated with modification. Our school district is the only one in the entire state to cancel graduation so preemptively and it feels like a slap in the face to many of us who have done so much to represent Pueblo in a positive light.
Having represented my school during the stakeholder meetings of the 4A bond issue, I learned much about what it takes to make difficult decisions. The answer to many of these problems is not to react hastily, but rather to take the time to make sure every single solution is examined in detail, with great consideration being given to those that the issue directly impacts.
It is time that we do the same with the issue of graduation before it’s too late. In a time when it is so easy to panic and rush decisions because of the daily news, we must continue to make level-headed, measured decisions, rather than react out of fear.
To quote President Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict the future, is to create it.”
If you’re a senior reading this, don’t give up. This is a time we have earned and each day presents different challenges for trying to get through it. Don’t forget that when they threatened to close any of our high schools, we all realized that each and every one of our high schools was worth fighting for.
Pueblo prides itself on its rivalries, but now is the time to come together around this issue and find solutions to this problem rather than dwell on it.
If you are the parent of a high school senior or know one, give them some much needed attention and care right now because we need it now more than ever! Each and every one of us who have earned the right to graduate this year want to walk across that stage with our family in the stands and our friends seated beside us, even if you seat us 6 feet apart wearing masks and gloves.
We want to change our tassels, scream our class yell and cry tears of joy, rather than tears of sadness. We have waited 13 years for these moments and will wait longer, if need be, so that we as a community, can do this right and give our seniors the traditional graduation we deserve.
Things are changing day by day. In the coming months, we will have plenty of time to plan a safe yet traditional graduation ceremony for each of Pueblo’s four high schools. My desire is that the school district revisit their idea of canceling the traditional graduation ceremonies in favor of virtual ones.
Please know, this is my opinion. I am reaching out to my fellow seniors and, as student body president, I will represent their wishes.
Though there may be people that disagree with my opinions, it would be wrong for me not to give a voice to those who aren’t always represented in big decisions such as this. Pueblo School District 60 is currently looking at alternative graduation possibilities, and I am grateful they are collaborating with students.
Just as the district seeks new information, I will as well. For now, I am humbly asking the school board and district administration to put their decision on hold and continue a dialogue with seniors and their parents and high school faculty, to come together to find a safe way to preserve our traditional graduation ceremony.
Cole Johnson is the student body president of Central High School and played an active role in the passage of the 4A bond issue of November 2019.