On the last day that Columbine High School’s class of 2020 would gather together, Columbine principal Scott Christy harkened back to the students’ first day at the school.
“I recall thinking on that day this class does not look intimidated like most classes do on their first day as freshman,” said Christy. “This class has a swag, a confidence—not in a cocky or arrogant way but I could tell that you were tough, determined and you weren’t going to back down or let anything get in your way. Yet you were compassionate at the same time.”
It is those characteristics, Christy said, that made him thankful the class of 2020 was the one to lead Columbine through the tumultuous challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, when school went online on a day’s notice. They also make him confident that the class is capable of solving some of the world’s many problems and being part of its next “great generation.”
That resilience the class faced in the midst of the pandemic was mentioned regularly during the two-hour ceremony.
“Members of the class of 2020 have experienced a few unavoidable storms this past spring,” said Ron Mitchell, a former Columbine principal and current member of the school board. “But the fact that you are here tonight shows me that you are learning to dance in the rain.”
Although the unusual graduation ceremony, with its August date and required mask wearing and social distancing, was in many ways a fitting end to a most unusual year, it also provided a welcome chance to get a taste of some of the experiences students had been deprived of.
Among them was a rousing final rendition of the “We Are Columbine” chant, a tradition normally reserved for the school’s spring assembly.
Yet the speakers also didn’t shy away from the bizarre nature of the event and year that had preceded it. Student speaker Julia Montano remarked at the start of the ceremony that she was speaking at what she called “the beginning of an end” and “a reintroduction from our time apart only to lead us into a goodbye.”
“However, amidst all the uncertainty and dual currents we are facing in our lives I can confidently assure you there is one thing that still rings constant and that is the fact that we are all Rebels for life and no one can ever take that away from us,” she said. “Maybe this isn’t a beginning to an end but rather a continuity of our story with Columbine and a community who will always leave their light on for us.”
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