From the editor: Adversity builds character
Special section is dedicated to members of the Class of 2020 and their bright tomorrows
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Drive north of Steamboat Springs on Elk River Road, and within a few miles, you’ll see five sheets hung along a wooden fence. They are painted with the words, “Congrats Class of 2020. Adversity builds character. Go forth and be amazing.”
Those words symbolize the impact a global pandemic has had upon the Class of 2020, and in this special section, we honor the graduating seniors of Routt County who deserve to be celebrated.
Thinking back on my own high school graduation so many years ago, it’s hard to imagine marking that milestone without my friends by my side, without hugs and without cheers from a packed audience as I walked across a stage to collect my diploma.
This year’s group of high school seniors has experienced something unprecedented. Their schools were closed, their classes were shifted online and they were asked to stay socially distant from their closest friends. Nothing about the end of senior year for this group has been normal. Sports seasons, musical productions, band concerts and traditional graduations have all been missed — no senior skip day, no sports banquets, no standing ovations.
The Class of 2020 will forever be linked to the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but it is this distinction that holds the power to make this group of graduates stronger than before their lives were upended. In my experience, when people persevere and seek the opportunity to grow and learn through tough times, they build resilience, compassion and an incredible sense of gratitude.
During a recent virtual town hall panel, three Steamboat Springs High School seniors answered questions about COVID-19 and how the imposed isolation had affected them. Each talked about the hardships they had endured, but they also spoke about the silver linings they’d discovered, which included spending more time with their families and seeking unique ways to celebrate their accomplishments. Their words reflected resilience, which can be defined as the ability to become stronger, healthy or successful again after something bad happens.
In a 2016 commencement speech at UC Berkeley, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, whose husband had died suddenly the year before, said, “You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are, and you just might become the very best version of yourself.”
Members of the Class of 2020 have faced adversity during this time of isolation, and as they begin the next chapters of their lives, I hope they will tap into the strong character qualities they most surely built during COVID-19. I have no doubt, once the losses are fully grieved, these new graduates will discover they possess new abilities to overcome challenges, embrace new experiences and soar to new heights.
This special section and accompanying videos were created to honor our graduating seniors. Your friends and family, your teachers and coaches, and your entire community come together to congratulate you on your graduation from high school and to celebrate your strengths, your achievements and your bright tomorrows.
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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