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BHS Class Of 2020 Graduates With Smiles

Lead Summary

By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News
As Benson High School seniors walked from their cars to the improvised stage set against the chain link fence of the Benson Family Aquatic Center Friday evening, we were surprised and reassured by the smiles we saw.

We saw an undiminished enthusiasm. We saw joy and laughter.

As each graduate held his or her diploma, facing family and friends, unrecognizable behind the glare on their windshields, most smiled bringing smiles to all who watched. They were proud. As graduates received their diplomas, car horns honked, and you could hear people cheering.

In the short car parade that immediately followed the graduation ceremony, we saw celebration by the graduates, their families, their friends and the community. Fire trucks and ambulances led the parade with their lights flashing and a horn blaring from time to time.

For the BHS Class of 2020, it was a senior year that came crashing down just as the most anticipated time of their journey through this phase of their education was nearing an end. Spring brings an energy and enthusiasm to students as they look forward to school ending but also to prom, graduation, and spring sporting achievements. They were looking forward to spring music concerts and trips.

Those spring months also provide a time for long goodbyes with fellow students. It is a parting process that brings some closure to their BHS school years as they head off to jobs or to more schooling. For many, it means leaving behind their family, classmates and friends, rarely to return.

Who could have guessed even in the first week of March that the COVID-19 pandemic would so utterly shut down the regular routine of community life so completely within a couple of weeks? Its unexpected deep impact left little or no time to mentally prepare for the sudden end to so much of what they anticipated for their senior year of school.

It was March 15 that Governor Walz signed the executive order authorizing the temporary closure of Minnesota public schools. It was done, he said, to protect students and educators from the deadly virus. At the time, there were just 35 deaths in the state attributed to the coronavirus.
However, based on what was happening in China, Italy, France and the east coast of the U.S., Walz and state health officials knew a surge in cases was heading this way.

Today, more than 1,000 deaths due to COVID-19 have been recorded in Minnesota with over 25,000 confirmed cases. There have been more than 107,000 deaths in the U.S.

The BHS Class of 2020 was making history. No other graduating class from Benson High School had experienced such complete dislocation. Yet, making history probably ranks pretty far down on the list of what was important to class members in their lives at this moment.

While there will be worry and fear of what lies ahead, this class will take with it a shared experience that will make them stronger in the year ahead. It will, we hope, make them more appreciative of what they do have.
This will be a summer to remember for the youth of this community from the youngest to those who may still be attending classes at BHS and the Northside Elementary this fall.

We still don’t know if classes will start on time. We don’t know if there will be fall sports. There will be no 90th annual celebration of Kid Day, an event started in the early 1930s to give children something to celebrate during the Great Depression years. Only one other time, during the polio outbreak in 1946, was Kid Day cancelled.

There will be no Pioneerland Band Festival June 14, most likely no Swift County Fair in August, and no Minnesota State Fair to signal the end of summer vacation.

The City of Benson voted Monday night to start the process for opening the swimming pool, which could take up to three weeks. At this time, the state has given clearance for swimming lessons to be conducted at the pool, but it will not be open to the general public.

When, and if, it does open to the general public, it will be at 50 percent capacity. Reduced capacity to stop the spread of the coronavirus will means a system will have to be worked out that gives the public turns in getting into the pool.

Plans are being developed for summer recreation classes, but no starting date or list of activities have been announced.

It is a good time for the community to do some brainstorming about what kinds of activities can be provided for our youth, so they don’t spend too much of their summer sitting inside with their phones, computers or televisions. We did it during the Depression in coming up with Kid Day.

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