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Celebrating an important milestone

A year ago this month, it seemed like everything had gone haywire. Perhaps one of the most disappointing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic was that high school and college graduates were not able to celebrate that milestone in traditional fashion.

After more than a year of doing the right things to protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus, though, things have come full circle. This year, high schools, colleges and universities in our region are choosing to again hold in-person ceremonies to recognize the Class of 2021 — and in some cases, the Class of 2020.

Despite the fact that everyday life was turned upside down beginning in March 2020, these students managed to complete their studies under challenging conditions. From remote learning to teleconferencing or online meetings with faculty and fellow students to a limited number of on-site labs in certain fields, these students buckled down and did what they needed to do in order to reach their goals.

Most of the region’s college’s and universities have been able to hold in-person ceremonies. On Saturday, for instance, the Franciscan University of Steubenville recognized 756 graduates — its largest class — during an outdoor ceremony at Vaccaro Field.

West Virginia Northern Community College, meanwhile, honored this year’s 312 graduates as well as last year’s 290 graduates during a ceremony held May 14 at Wheeling Island Stadium. Bethany College and West Liberty University held their commencements earlier this month.

Now, high schools across the region are preparing for their own graduation celebrations. Many are opting for outdoor ceremonies, while some are limiting the number of attendees per student.

Whatever steps they take to ensure safety at these events, it’s good to see administrators have been willing to work to make them possible. Graduation is a milestone in life, and everyone who achieves it should mark it in some way.

We congratulate the Classes of 2020 and 2021 for their hard work and success, and we wish them all the best in the future endeavors.

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