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Kenton High School’s Class of 2019 throws their caps skyward after their commencement ceremony.

Memories left hanging

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

It can be argued that the world is in a state of unrest. Social Media is very rapidly becoming “here’s where you can find toilet paper.” The authorities are being called over a jar of peanut butter in the grocery store. Our county’s Emergency Operations Center is open and activated for the first time since I learned of its existence. After 35 consecutive runs (one of which during a Level 3 snow emergency), the Hardin County Fair cancelled the annual consignment farm machinery sale — a true sign of the times.

Perhaps the most gut wrenching outcome of all of this is the time the students aren’t spending together. I write this blog post on the way back from a spring break spent in North Carolina with family. My cousin is a senior in high school. I watched a look of sadness and disappointment as their principal announced her soccer season was suspended until the beginning of April. A few days later, North Carolina’s governor closed all schools for two weeks. While there was temporary excitement from the students, I’m certain a few days will pass and the reminder that days are ticking away spent away from friends and peers will again loom.

Back in Ohio – where schools are already closed for three weeks — Governor Mike DeWine alluded Sunday that schools may not be able to reopen this academic year. That’s heartbreaking it this turns out to be the reality.

I’ll feel for the athletes who, if that’s what ends up happening, won’t get to score their final points. I’ll feel for the for the FFA members who won’t get to compete in that final contest. I’ll feel for the show choir members who won’t get to perform on stage that final time. I’ll feel for the students who won’t get the closure of seeing their friends before heading off for summer break.

Most of all, I’ll feel for the seniors that won’t get to close out their final days as kids. Senior skip day, prom, awards ceremonies, senior field day and graduation are the devices we use to close that chapter of our lives. I personally made some of my best memories with my friends at these few events and can’t imagine not having them. Now, they could be ripped from our students’ lives.

These students may not have the joy of rubbing the underclassmen’s noses in the fact that they get out of school a week early. Graduation party invitations have yet to be exchanged. Year-end class activities have not been enjoyed. Promposals are yet to occur. Sporadic post-school-pre-practice fast-food runs could be suspended indefinitely. They may not have the opportunity to lift each other up in those final days. They may not get the opportunity to squint through the tears and hugs after they’ve thrown their red and white caps skyward in late may.

The memories and laughs waiting to be shared by students. They continue to hang in the air of our state’s closed schools — and could indefinitely.

Certainly not be neglected, I feel for the seniors in college. They sat in their last sorority or fraternity event, student organization meeting, lecture, and exam — and they didn’t even know it. There will be no final projects and no celebratory “we made it” night on the town. They’re going to start “adulting.” They’ll mask their pain behind a layer of sarcasm and humor as they stare at their computer screens from their parent’s homes.

We need to treasure every minute we have the privilege of spending with our friends. This is just one more reminder of that same idea and never take a second for granted.

Thank you, teachers. I want to make sure I send a special shout to the faculty and staff of our schools and universities who are working double-overtime to convert their courses to online delivery. You are all superheroes.

There is hope!

I don’t remember Sept. 12, 2001. However, I know the stories of people enlisting in the military and flying Ol’ Glory high above their homes. This is the new Sept. 12. Our communities are banding together. One local pizza place recognized the need for broadband for students to learn. They’ve invited students to use their Internet and offered a free slice of pizza and a drink on select days. Another local company independently organized free lunch on Monday for students. I’ve seen slues of individuals offering to purchase groceries for those that can’t go out. Utility companies are suspending turn-offs. Spectrum is offering broadband accessibility affordably.

I hope the history books will recount this as a unifying experience for our country. Red or blue, black or white, rural or urban, we need each other. We need our friends, neighbors, and communities. While I’m a firm believer that everyone should fly a flag, I’m not asking you to do that. However, I am very much making an ask. The ask is; take care of each other. Call your friends and neighbors. Check in on your community. Connect with seniors. Help those that are in the at-risk population.

I think it’s almost impossible that someone hasn’t heard about this yet. But, if you’re that person that has no idea what’s going on, check out coronavirus.ohio.gov. On a personal note, I’m really thankful for our local and state governments for doing their absolute best in responding to this and leading the nation in coronavirus response. I spoke about Governor DeWine earlier. Let me be clear in saying nothing is meant to be derogatory toward the Governor. I think he’s leading and making the most informed decisions he can, and that’s what we elected him to do. I’m not an infectious disease expert. I’m not sitting in the war room. Lead on, Governor.

911 call centers are now going to ask you if you’re experiencing flu symptoms. That’s to protect our first responders who are now in more danger than usual. Please just answer their questions. And of course, wash your hands, take care of yourselves, and reach out to your community.

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