A glimmer of hope for graduation

On Feb. 25, Gov. Mike DeWine announced Ohio will soon lift COVID-19 restrictions on large public gatherings, including banquet halls, wedding receptions, school dances and graduations. We can thank the lift on restrictions in part to the vaccine distribution, especially as all Ohioans over 16 become eligible March 29.

As it stands, Youngstown State University plans to hold an in-person commencement ceremony for spring 2021 graduates May 8 at Stambaugh Stadium. This aligns with what some other Ohio schools plan for, such as University of Akron and Ohio University. Other universities, such as Kent State University, have yet to make a decision.

Fall commencement 2020 was a bit of a letdown for many graduates. Held virtually, it robbed hardworking students of the chance to walk across the stage and collect their diploma from the hands of administrators. It robbed them of the chance to say one last goodbye to the school they’ve dedicated years of their lives to. Our graduates will find themselves out in a world ravaged by economic distress, social tensions and disease, but we have reason to believe they’ll be all the stronger for it. 

So many once-in-a-lifetime events have happened over the course of the last year, making it difficult to remember how things used to be — how we could once think nothing of walking across the stage to collect our diplomas, how we could not spend a second moment considering the size of our graduation party’s guest list. 

As May 8 approaches, we may find ourselves dawning a new era in our lives — an era where the coronavirus is but a worry only in the backgrounds of our minds, no longer the present-center nimbus cloud fogging our views of the future. Until then, we shall wait with anticipation for the next chapter to unfold.