David City Public School held its graduation ceremony virtually last Saturday afternoon, with School Board President Stephanie Summers noting how the 2020 coronavirus pandemic is startling similar to how the Spanish influenza spread across the nation in 1918.
“It’s a rare occasion to find ourselves sharing commonalities with individuals living a century ago, and yet here we are, connected through time by similar struggles and similar experiences,” Summers said. “We’re able to learn of these connections because of students very much like you recorded them in journals and diaries. You share more with them than you realize.”
Summers cited journal entries written by 15-year-old Violet Harris during that time.
“On Oct. 15, 1918, she writes, 'it was announced in the papers tonight that all churches, shows and schools would be closed until further notice to prevent Spanish influenza from spreading,'” Summers said, adding that Violet’s hometown closed all businesses, wore masks, banned public outings and practiced social distancing.
But, the isolation only lasted six weeks for Violet, she said, while the world has been dealing with the COVID-19 crisis for ongoing for two months.
“It’s a remarkable moment in history, to be sure, one we won’t forget,” Summers said.
“Instead of studying historical moments every day, you’re living historical moments that will be analyzed, discussed and written about for generations to come.”
Graduating senior Brittney Palik noted that her class has missed out on traditional spring activities, such as prom and senior skip day.
“Our senior year may not have been ordinary but amazing things come from a product of a hard life. If we can make it through a pandemic, we can make it through whatever challenges come our way in the next chapter of our life,” Palik said.
Classmate Amber Voboril added that members of her class were born near the time of 9/11 and are now graduating high school during a worldwide pandemic.
“Everyone watching this video has been affected by it in some way, shape or form,” Voboril said. “However, we are strong and we will survive. The next chapter of our lives is our future, and I am certain it will be bright even in these times of uncertainty.”
Superintendent Chad Denker has been affected by the COVID-19 crisis not only as an administrator, but as a parent. His son, Clayton, is a member of the Class of 2020.
“On behalf of everyone at David City Public Schools, I extend my best wishes to the senior class and express my gratitude to all of the family members and friends who have supported them along the way,” Denker said.
Summers expressed appreciation for all those who have supported the seniors and other students during this time.
“I would like to thank the parents, families and community members in all of the various communities that make up our school district for supporting our staff and students in this most unprecedented and uncertain time,” Summers said. “I would specifically express my appreciation for our administration, as well as both our certified and classified staff and publicly recognize their hard work in support of the students in this academic institution every day and especially during this unique time in our history.”
Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at email@example.com.
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