Last week, the community gathered three evenings in a row to celebrate the Class of 2021.

In all, about than 450 students earned their high school diplomas, bringing their high school journeys to a close and launching the next step of their lives.

The past school year brought numerous challenges, noted by speakers throughout the programs at The Phoenix School, Cumberland County High School and Stone Memorial High School. The theme for the week was perseverance.

Perseverance is defined as “a continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failures or opposition.”

No one can deny that the students in all our schools exhibited perseverance this past year. Their school days were dramatically different than in the past. There were few school assemblies. Field trips were off the table. They had to wear face coverings to school.

Contact tracing meant they could be asked to quarantine for two weeks at a time, missing activities they had been looking forward to and placing them in virtual learning for a time.

Some students elected to attend school remotely this past year, as well. Their school year was certainly a new experience.

But, they persevered; as did their teachers and the staffs of our schools who had to adjust quickly to new learning models, new rules, and new ways of doing just about everything. Everything was different, from riding the bus and having lunch at school, to participating in extracurricular activities.

Congratulations to you all!

While this year’s graduating classes have already bid their schools adieu, the rest of the school community will say farewell to the 2020-’21 school year on Friday. 

All of them have learned something about perseverance this year.

There is no doubt they will all face challenges in the years to come. Challenges are a part of life. They help us grow and learn and realize that we all have within us what it takes to overcome challenges. When they meet challenges in the future, they already know they are capable of rising to meet those challenges. 

To the class of 2021, enjoy this moment, and get ready for the next chapter in your life. Some of you will continue your education. Some may enter the military. Some of you may decide to enter the workforce.

Whatever you do, know that we’re all rooting for your success, and we know you can do it — you’ve already proven you have what it takes to pick yourself up and deal with the challenges in front of you.

Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. She covers schools and education in Cumberland County. She may be reached at hmullinix@crossville-chronicle.com.

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