EDITORIAL: Onward and upward

Apr 30, 2020 by

Published April 29, 2020

Gov. Charlie Baker’s announcement that school buildings will be closed for the rest of the academic year was truly a punch to the gut.

While we certainly understand and respect why Baker decided to close schools for the rest of the year in order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, our hearts break for the school system’s students and educators during this challenging time. In order to protect the public’s health and well-being, students are being asked to sacrifice their academic, emotional and personal growth by staying home. The situation might not be equivalent to storming the beaches at Normandy, but it’s certainly difficult.

We particularly feel for Lynnfield High School’s Class of 2020. One of the Wakefield Item Company’s main reporters was a senior when the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks took place 19 years ago, and he remembers feeling hopeless and helpless as he was about to enter the big, bad world while it was on fire. The same is currently true for the Class of 2020, which is why we empathize with all of the kids during this challenging time.

LHS English Department Head Maryellen Iannibelli noted in a tweet that she taught 35 seniors the morning after Baker’s announcement. She said it was “the most difficult class” she taught during her career.

“Your presence is a present,” Iannibelli wrote about the seniors. “Class of 2020 will always be in my heart.”

In addition to Lynnfield High’s seniors, we also empathize with the Class of 2020’s parents because they will most likely not be able to watch their children walk across the stage at Pioneer Stadium, throw their caps in the air and bid farewell to their high school careers. While student speakers change at every graduation, the one thing that does not change is the sense of pride and accomplishment students and their families feel after achieving one of life’s biggest and most memorable milestones.

School officials are currently working on planning certain end-of-the-year celebrations, including graduation for the Class of 2020. School officials are developing plans for moving on ceremonies for the preschool, elementary schools and Lynnfield Middle School as well.

“We have been talking about these milestones for weeks, and we are going to figure it out,” said Superintendent Jane Tremblay during an emergency School Committee meeting last week.

We also want to applaud the school system’s educators for working diligently to get the different remote learning plans up and running. Teachers have been working non-stop to develop lessons for students to undertake at home. Administrators, curriculum directors and department heads have been doing their best to help teachers succeed while adapting to a rapidly changing situation on the fly.

The elementary school’s educators particularly deserve praise, as they decided to hold parades earlier this month in order to lift the community’s spirit. The two parades were certainly a bright light in a very dark time.

It’s important to remember that educators are also first responders in this crisis just like health care professionals, public safety and public works personnel. They deserve to be commended for their efforts.

We also empathize with the school system’s retiring educators who have watched their final year in education get turned upside down. It’s important that the district’s retirees have some kind of closure later this year, and we are confident their dedication, commitment and hard work will be recognized when the time is right.

The Villager will be covering all of these different celebrations and events, no matter how different they will be than in the past. The school system’s students, parents and educators deserve nothing less.

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