Even if graduation ceremonies are cancelled, students should still be proud of themselves

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Rachel Mirakova | The Ticker

Amanda Salazar

Colleges and universities across the United States have cancelled in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester and, in some schools, for the summer semester as well.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that schools in the city would be closed through the end of this school year. Preciously, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that schools in the entire state must do online instruction until at least April 15, but he has not yet made a decision on whether he will agree with the mayor’s announcement or decide on a different course of action for the end of this educational year.

School closing are part of an effort aimed at helping to “flatten the curve” as Cuomo likes to say — which basically means to reduce the spread of the virus by encouraging people to start social distancing and self-isolating.

While no definite plans about state-wide graduation have been announced by the either mayor or the governor the most plausible outcome is that public school ceremonies will either be cancelled, pushed back to the fall; or done remotely online.

CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez sent an email to all graduating seniors explaining that commencement, or the college-level equivalent of a graduation ceremony, will be postponed indefinitely and the individual colleges will work out their own plans.

However, as much as not getting to have a graduation ceremony might suck for students at all levels of schooling, it doesn’t diminish their years of hard-work and effort in the slightest, and it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t still find a way to celebrate their achievements.

Students by no means should feel that without a ceremony, they haven’t actually graduated. 

That’s not true at all, and, in fact, the majority of schools don’t actually graduate their students on the day of their ceremony.

Nearly every New York City public school student can remember opening up their diploma case handed to them after walking across the stage during one of their graduations and seeing an empty spot where their diploma is supposed to be.

The cases handed out at the ceremonies are usually empty or have nothing but a blank sheet of paper in them, not an actual diploma.

Students don’t graduate when they attend the ceremony, they graduate when they receive their diploma — their real diploma, not some rolled-up blank paper tied with a ribbon.

Just because graduation ceremonies are likely to be cancelled or held in an un-orthodox manner doesn’t mean that students won’t actually be graduating, because schools are still going to be sending them their diplomas, either online or through the mail.

The class of 2020 got a raw deal, we can all agree on, but they shouldn’t look at it as a failure to have their accomplishments acknowledged. They should still feel proud of themselves and all the work they put in to get to where they are — and their families be proud as well.

Obviously, it would be the best-case scenario for schools to hold their graduation ceremonies at a later date, this is not a guarantee for all schools yet.

Some pre-kindergarteners or kindergarteners will be missing their very first graduations. High schoolers will miss their graduation ceremonies from their last level of primary school; and college students will miss what is, for some, the biggest and the last graduation they will have.

Moreover, students are missing out on prom, senior pranks, senior trips, senior ditch days, spirit days and just being at their schools for the remainder of their last year there.

It’s an unfortunate situation, and the hope is that the schools will handle it in a way that makes the majority of people happy, but even if they don’t it doesn’t reflect poorly on any of the students.

Once the coronavirus passes — assuming that it does — families should celebrate and commemorate with the graduating students, especially if their student’s school doesn’t end up holding a ceremony.

In any case, the students from the class of 2020 should take pride in the time they put into their education to get to the point of graduation, because not everybody does.