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2020 Graduates, You Did It!


I graduated two years ago from Altoona High (Go, Mountain Lions!). That day is still fresh in my memory. We got to do a “victory lap” before we took our seats and all 600-some of us were called out by our names and congratulated for accomplishing the seemingly never-ending task of completing high school. “I did it,” I remember sighing as I took my diploma in hand. Once all of us were recognized for our achievement, we threw our caps up into the air and I must have hugged 20 of my peers that were sitting around me. I was so happy. It was a pretty standard and traditional high school graduation.

Unfortunately, Central High School seniors did not get to have a traditional graduation ceremony as, I assume, most other American public school graduates have experienced. However, through the confusion and stress of a pandemic outbreak, the staff of Central High School arranged a delightful and sincere graduation ceremony for their 2020 graduates. There was a procession of cars, led by a decorated bus and a police escort.

Pomp and Circumstance played as the seniors got out of their cars, adjusted their caps, walked through the arbor, down the sidewalk, greeted their principal, received their diploma, and got back in their cars to continue the parade. The first student to graduate, Isaac Baker, skipped and twirled down the sidewalk. I could feel his excitement and I remember feeling that same sense of pride that he must have been feeling. I did not know a single one of the students or teachers, but tears still welled up in my eyes. I remember the bittersweet emotions of graduating high school.

The struggle of high school is not that far behind me. There are days when it seemed impossible to get up and go, especially on cold, icy days that we are all familiar with in Pennsylvania. There were days where the clock didn't tick fast enough. There were days when everyone got on my nerves. However, on graduation day, seniors don’t think about the rough days. They don't think about the normal days where nothing exciting happened. They might not even think of the good days they shared with their peers. All that matters is that they made it to their graduation day.

Cheers to you, 2020 graduates. Through what seemed to be impossible measures, you did it!

Editor’s Note: Helena Bassler is the daughter of Allan and Karen Bassler, owners of the Herald. Helena is an education major attending Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Helena shot some video of the Central High graduation. The videos are posted to


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