Michelle Mann

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Walking across the stage” has a whole new meaning for the graduating classes of 2020 — and any way you look at it history is being made right before our eyes.

With almost no notice, the whole world turned upside down as the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the planet several months ago.

“Quarantine” and “social distancing” are the new normal as we online shop and curbside pickup, wearing facemasks, from stores and restaurants. Church services are held online reminding us of the reality that “the church” is not, in fact, a building.

Here in the Wiregrass it has been amazing to watch communities rise to the challenge of creating normalcy in the face of pandemic chaos.

With almost no notice, students, parents and educators created a school system redesigned to finish the academic year cut short by state-mandated, coronavirus-created closures.

Not only academics but school meal programs for children were rethought and restructured when existing polices created roadblocks.

Five months ago, the personification of triumph over adversity was celebrated in the Wiregrass as hundreds turned out in what felt like sub-zero temperatures to commemorate the centennial birthday of the Boll Weevil Monument.

And here we are again watching triumph over adversity in the Wiregrass as we celebrate with our graduates, from preschool to college. Daleville City Schools Superintendent Dr. Lisa Stamps summed it up when she called the classes of 2020 “historic.” They are indeed.

“Non-traditional” has become the key phrase as each of the area school systems have created graduation ceremonies unique to their graduating class size and in compliance with state-mandated social distancing.

Graduation brought with it a roller coaster of emotions in pre-coronavirus times. It is heightened this year by the knowledge that these history-making graduates are living proof of triumph over adversity.

Graduates, the way you perceive and react to this new world is a choice. Everything you are comes from your choices. In the end, we are our choices.

In his book “Oh the places you’ll go,” Dr. Seuss sums up the challenges of moving high mountains, being your best self and not being afraid to jump into life with both feet.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the guy who’ll decide what you do,” Seuss said in what has to be one of the greatest books written.

“You’ll be on your way up. You’ll be seeing great sights. You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.” A great message full of great life lessons.

Hats off to the Wiregrass graduates—from preschool to college—we would never miss this chance to tell you how proud we are of you all.

Here’s hoping you’ll always find yourselves as full of big dreams as you are today. You, my friends, are making history.

All life’s best to you. God bless you now and always.

Michelle Mann is a staff writer for The Southeast Sun and Daleville Sun-Courier. The opinions of this writer are her own and not the opinion of the paper. She can be reached at (334) 393-2969 or by email at mmann@southeastsun.com.

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