Growing up in Oklahoma, we learned how to deal with disasters. We were taught from elementary to high school to have a plan during tornado season, which included a place to take cover, a fully equipped emergency kit and a radio to hear updates to inform us when it was safe to leave our shelter.
Well, 2020 has come in like a violent tornado at 1,000 mph with a vengeance, destroying anything in its path. Unlike the twisters we typically have that last about three minutes or so, this symbolic tornado that we are experiencing is lasting substantially longer.
I will be the first to admit: I was unprepared for 2020. COVID 19 confined us to our homes and allowed us to spend more time with our family, yet forced us to notice the injustices in the world that many thought did not exist.
Simultaneously, we have the senior class of 2020, trying their hardest to make the best of things. They missed their senior prom, senior activities and their grand finale, their graduation day. Many seniors have missed their opportunity to walk across the stage with their family and friends cheering them on. Not only are our children devastated, but the parents are equally saddened.
As parents, we have the pleasure of watching our children grow up with their friends. As a result, their friends become a part of our family, like our children, too. We all play together, work together, pray together and love together. All the smiles, laughs, sleepovers, last-minute projects, teacher visits, skating parties, birthdays, talent shows, Snapchats, TicToks and late-night talks all led up to graduation day.
Viola Davis narrated: “As virtual graduation ceremonies take place across the country, it seems like all of us, students and parents, sisters and brothers, friends and coworkers, are reflecting on what we’ve been through and what could be next. Confidence may be shaken. Our hearts may be cracked. But we’re still here.”
It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child. Therefore, with my cracked heart, I looked to my village to help weather this storm. We decided that we will weather this storm together. We are not going to wait until the storm is over to celebrate. We refused to miss an opportunity to watch our seniors walk across the stage. In dark times, they are the light, the flowers after the rain and the rainbow after the storm.
On Saturday, June 13, we honored our seniors by holding our graduation ceremony in our front yard. Eleven of my son’s closest friends and my niece walked across the stage in their caps and gowns to the remix version of the graduation song “Pomp and Circumstance.” Guest speakers included Rochelle Wilson, assistant principal at East Central High School, and me, director of diversity, equity and inclusion of Tulsa Technology Center.
I may be a little a biased, but that was the BEST graduation ceremony I have ever been a part of. Parents were able to contribute to the ceremony and have their own special time with their graduates. The smiles and gratitude were priceless. Although some of the graduates attended different schools, they were able to graduate with their closest friends and family.
The class of 2020’s lesson of the year is perseverance. It can’t be taught in textbooks or through a classroom lecture. Perseverance is taught through life experiences. Our children have been taught that it is ok to fall, just as long as they continue to get back up. 2020 has taught them that we do not make excuses; we make it happen.
Many blessings to the class of 2020!
Dr. Tamecca Rogers is a resident of Tulsa and Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Tulsa Technology Center, where she has worked for 10 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in business administration and a doctoral degree in educational leadership. Prior to her time at Tulsa Tech, Dr. Rogers served five years as a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy and a combined six years as a high school instructor and college enrollment counselor. She has also held adjunct professor positions at multiple post-secondary institutions. She is mom to three boys who love to discover adventure together.