NELDON: Our contribution to the Class of 2020

During a time when graduating seniors are typically donning gowns and tuxedos for their senior proms, pulling senior pranks, saying farewell to teachers and underclassmen and celebrating a long list of “lasts,” the Class of 2020 is left with a lack of closure.

Weeks away from turning tassels and entering the “real world,” graduating students learned that 13 years of hard work came to a screeching halt.

Sensing the pain and sense of loss these young adults are feeling, many have stepped up to show support. Parents have decorated front porches with photos and school colors. Schools have lit up football fields and featured photos of seniors on their Facebook pages. Administrators are working to plan some form of finale, and community members have shown their support from the safety of their homes.

While we know these efforts do not completely make up for the loss these seniors are feeling, we commend the efforts of those going the extra mile to soften the blow and we want to do our part to do the same.

This time of year, Leader Publications is usually hard at work preparing our own version of a high school yearbook, which features a black and white photo of every graduating senior from Brandywine, Buchanan, Cassopolis, Dowagiac, Edwardsburg and Niles school districts. Though school is out of session, we plan to bring this section back even better than ever.

With the help of local business owners, Leader Publications intends to publish a full-color glossy magazine commemorating the Class of 2020.

Each graduating senior will be featured with a color photo, and local business owners and nonprofit leaders will have a chance to express the congratulations they usually would share at graduation ceremonies.

As our thanks to graduating seniors, Leader Publications will also give out three cash scholarships to winners of an essay contest. Students are asked to write an essay between 500 and 1,000 words answering the prompt, “Twenty years from now, what will the class of 2020 be remembered for?”

While most people have empathy for these young adults, only these seniors and their families truly know the impact the pandemic has had on their lives. We request that those submitting essays put their feelings about the pandemic into words, but also dig deep to think what else their senior class will be known for.

Submissions must be written by graduating seniors and emailed to news@leaderpub.com.

Winners will receive scholarships of up to $500 each, and their essays will be published in the High School Yearbook, which will publish at the end of May.

Class of 2020, we are so proud of all you have accomplished thus far and know that while you are ending this chapter on terms different than you had expected, that the rest of your story is left to be written. The future is yours. We cannot wait to see what you do.

Ambrosia Neldon is the general manager at Leader Publications. She can be reached by phone at (269) 687-7700 or by email at ambrosia.neldon@leaderpub.com

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