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Graduates learn tough lessons during pandemic

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HARTINGTON — Members of the Cedar Catholic and Hartington-Newcastle classes of 2020 finally have their diplomas in hand.

Graduation ceremonies for both schools were held over the weekend — two-and-a-half months after the originally scheduled date.

The weekend graduation programs had elements of a traditional commencement ceremony, but there were some unique moments as well. Live band and vocal performances were not allowed, the tradition of congratulating each senior with a handshake was also discarded as was the traditional receiving line after the ceremony.

The August graduations were also marked by face masks, social distancing, and a limitation on group photos.

The coronavirus pandemic will leave a mark on these graduates that they will wear throughout their lives, HNS Supt. AJ Johnson said in his speech to the 27 HNS graduates.

“For some strange reason, I think we are going to remember 2020 for a long time. It’s like something big happened. We were actually introduced to something called the Murder Hornet in 2020, and it barely made the news. When Murder Hornets aren’t even on the radar, I think that’s a bad sign that maybe that bad things are happening,” he quipped.

Johnson said members of the class of 2020 had to deal with an awful lot, but they got through it. This should help them get through quite a bit as they move on to the next stages of their lives, he said.

“You learned a couple of lessons from the COVID-19-20 school year,” Johnson said. “First you learned that life can be tough — because it has been tough these last several months. If you accept the fact that life is going to be challenging and difficult, graduates, you will never be disappointed when it is.”

Johnson said members of the class of 2020 should be able to use their experiences from this unique school year to their advantage.

“You are going to have to work harder than your predecessors to succeed in college and your careers, and you can,” he said.

Fr. Owen Korte told Cedar Catholic graduates on Sunday they had the misfortune of having to deal with a lot of big changes in their lives.

“We will remember these days, they will mark us for life. Just like your parents were marked by other historic events … my generation by the assassination of JFK and Vietnam … your generation by the Rona,” he said. “What a year this has been. Since March, almost half a calendar year now, we have been riding the wave of this microscopic foe. Things are just not normal anymore and it is not a local thing, it is world wide. Even during WWII or 9/11 we never shut schools or churches. This is a time like no other. And you graduates had to have your senior year jettisoned in the middle of it all.”

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