Graduation Reimagined on the Chesapeake

USNA photo archive

Here’s to the Class of 2020 

I remember the fall of my senior year at Severna Park High School, in part, for the milestones that were canceled. We had no Homecoming parade and no pep rally. We never got a chance to perform a silly, choreographed dance set to Vanilla Ice’s Ice Ice Baby, wearing the blue sequined skirts we’d made. Though I’d just been voted to the Homecoming court, I never got to ride atop a convertible in the parade, wearing a tiara and waving as we proceeded down Robinson Road.  

That’s because it was October 2002, and a massive manhunt was underway to find the gunmen who were targeting people in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia—seemingly at random—with deadly aim. Our Homecoming festivities happened to be scheduled during the 22-day stretch in which 10 people were killed and three others critically wounded. In Chesapeake communities like Severna Park, large, outdoor gatherings were canceled out of concern they could be the next sniper targets. Our parents were afraid to let us fill up at gas stations. For those three weeks, the fear was real. Afterwards, we regretted the lost memories of our senior year. 

In 2020, high school seniors are experiencing lost memories on a drastically larger scale. Without much warning, anticipated milestones like finals, last sports seasons, prom and graduation disappeared. Seniors with college plans are left in the lurch as colleges and universities make contingency plans for the fall. Even the dedicated parents, teachers and coaches who have invested in their students are struggling with the loss of the full experience. 

It’s not just high school: younger students looking forward to moving up to middle or high school aren’t getting proper sendoffs, either. And for college seniors, who have the real world staring them in the face, the end of senior year may be downright unnerving.  

These pandemic realities are exactly why this issue of CBM Bay Weekly honors the graduates of Chesapeake country. We’re looking at how high school seniors are making the best of circumstances, how the U.S. Naval Academy adapted its storied Commissioning traditions, and the plans our schools are making to give seniors a send-off to remember. For the first time, we’re giving you a chance to honor your own graduating loved one with a personal announcement in Bay Weekly (it’s still not too late to place one in the next issue). 

Whether it’s paying tribute to graduates, tracking down local take-out options, or adding a digital paper to better serve those staying home, we’re committed to being here as a resource for you in unpredictable times. The Bay Weekly staff is constantly working on ways to serve our readers during COVID-19. And it’s not going unnoticed. I’m proud to share that we were selected to receive funding from Google News Initiative’s Journalism Emergency Relief Fund. Bay Weekly was chosen in the first wave of recipients out of 12,000 applicants from more than 100 countries. 

We’re grateful for the recognition of our resolve not to interrupt production of this community paper despite tough times in the newspaper business. We’re happy to say we haven’t missed an issue, and we’re working on brand new plans to get Chesapeake country through the summer of COVID-19. In the meantime, we extend our congratulations to the Class of 2020!