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CASSANDRA JENKINS — Traditional graduation worth the wait; PNG principal shares opinion

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced last week that the remainder of the 2019-20 school year is cancelled.

Seniors around the state began to mourn the loss of their last final months suddenly cut short. Something weighing heavily on everyone’s minds since the announcement is the ultimate culmination of friendships, bonds and memories — graduation.

Graduation is one night of saying goodbye to teachers, friends and family, before taking off into the next phase of life.

As online learning is stretched to the end of the year, seniors are all asking the same question: What about graduation?

Several schools around the United States are announcing plans to do a virtual graduation to stay on course with timelines and dates.

However, traditional graduation is worth the wait.

Port Neches-Groves High School Principal Scott Ryan agrees. He has no plans on hosting a virtual graduation.

“I would much rather prefer to postpone the ceremony and do it at a later date,” Ryan said. “I think there is certain things about the ceremony itself that you can’t do online. There are things you just can’t duplicate.

“I know it might be just wishful thinking, but I truly hope to have a traditional graduation. We’d love to see the class of 2020 again and show them how much they mean to us and just how special they are.”

Ryan also brought up the party that follows graduation — project graduation.

“If we have to do an online graduation, we can’t do a project graduation,” he said. “The night after real graduation is also important because it’s a fun accumulation of the last time the kids are all together. It’s a great sendoff. It’s a community event and is the last time many of us will ever see each other.”

As someone who has not only graduated high school, but also college, I can say that it’s once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I said goodbye to friends I planned on never seeing again and goodbye to those that I did. I had family members at the high school ceremony that couldn’t make it to the college commencement.

Graduation is more than a diploma telling you something you already know, that you did it. It’s about encouraging those that struggled, seeing friends that stayed up with you for countless study sessions, thanking teachers that pulled you through tough life trials and saying goodbye for what may be the last time to a school, friends and mentors.

The class of 2019-20 in this community has been through a lot, but the comeback, the celebration is as strong, if not stronger, than the challenge.

This class deserves a sendoff stronger than a virtual goodbye.

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at cassie.jenkins@panews.com.