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Best of luck to graduates
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - Ah, late May, the season of high school, technical school, and college graduations. These celebrations at the end of years of formal, supervised study, looking back on a special time of life and looking forward to see what lies in the future, are deeply ingrained rites of passage. And what is usually a very unique time, when families, friends, and entire communities proudly acknowledge their newly minted grads, is, this year, more than passing strange.

It’s encouraging to see the pictures in this paper of graduating local seniors in the run up to graduation and to read of their plans. Those bright, shiny faces exude optimism and lift our spirits. They will need all the positive attitude, spunk, and creativity they can muster as they enter the adult world of 2020. A favorite sign and sentiment of mine is ‘High School is a Pop Quiz; Life is the Final’ and it comes to mind as the graduates, and the rest of us, explore the deep end of the pool.

They will need to believe, as we all do, that things will get better. The economy will recover, probably in an altered form, but one they will adapt to and find in it a meaningful place. The pandemic has, and will continue, to mold our national and global society to a new reality.  We are all in this together like all the signs declare, and comparisons to the Great Depression and World War II are appropriate. Those coming of age today will have stories of this era to rival those of their grandparents.

When I was a kid, I always used to hate the standard question: “What are you going to be when you grow up?” There was an implicit pressure involved in it. Then, later, I hated to ask that same question and tried not to.  “What are your plans after graduation?” or “What are you interested in?“ seem to be a much more gentle inquiries and allow a more open-ended response.

Even before the pandemic hit, the world of work had changed dramatically from when most of us began our work lives. Whole new categories of work and ways of working emerged as technology and communications have evolved at warp speed. Working from home, for example, may soon be commonplace, as it has proven to be doable in 2020. Teaching school from home and completing the school year from home, awkward as they must have been, were accomplished by dedicated teachers, more involved parents, and students.

Graduation commencement messages this year prove to be a real challenge. Just delivering such messages has been turned on its head. But here are some suggestions: Stay safe. Follow the health guidelines. Keep an open mind and a positive attitude. Keep on learning. Be creative. Connect with people. Look for problems to solve and ways to help others. Work hard and look for opportunities.

Best of luck to all 2020 graduates.