By Matt Reese
I was a bit surprised the other day when my 10-year-old son, who regularly complains about all things related to school, was lamenting the fact that he will never get to participate in his fourth grade class talent show. The event is one of the last things the students do before the end of the school year as a sort of graduation from elementary school.
I was whisked back to a couple of years earlier when my daughter participated in her fourth grade talent show. She spent many hours with her friends preparing a unique routine that was a real hit. All parties still have fond memories of it.
While the lack of opportunity for fourth graders to develop and act out a skit, or sing a solo, or carry out a dance routine will likely not have much impact on their future (and in fact may be a small act of mercy for parents and teachers alike), it is, however, an unfortunate lost last that can never be replaced or replicated.
This is a season of many lost lasts, especially for young people who will never have a senior prom, never turn their tassel with classmates at a graduation ceremony, and never finish out their last year of spring sports that could have been the fruition of years of dedication and hard work. The lack of an FFA convention in 2020 is a massive set of lost lasts for members who have spent many hours of toil and dedication to only have their efforts summed up in the briefest of virtual blips. How very sad.
Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter, wrote up a nice tribute to FFA seniors highlighting their lost lasts during the online 2020 Ohio FFA Celebration in early May.
“Think back to the first time you put your FFA jacket on. As you slid one arm in and then the other, you were filled with excitement for the future, wondering what your FFA journey would be like. As you smoothed out the jacket to be able to zip it up for the first time, it felt a little awkward and uncomfortable. You soon realized these feelings would become all too familiar as you became more involved and your advisors pushed you outside your comfort zone. The more you wore the jacket, the more you learned, and the more you became invested in growing through your FFA family,” Oglesby wrote. “Fast forward three years to your senior year where you felt nervous about the uncertainty of the future but were excited to see what it would hold. You appreciated the ‘lasts’ of high school as the months crept closer to May. For the seniors of 2020, many of these ‘lasts’ have been missed and the uncertainty feeling is all too familiar, but for different reasons.”
As more attention turns to the Ohio fair season just around the corner, announcements have already begun about devastating cancellations that will lead to countless lost lasts, each taking a toll and carrying a small (or maybe very significant) cost. There is still plenty unknown about 2020 county fairs and the Ohio State Fair, but Marion County has already cancelled to instead host single day events for junior fair exhibitors. More fairs will likely take a similar course of action.
In the grocery store, there are many more lost lasts that will have untold ripple effects for months and maybe years to come. For example, if on May 7, a father walked by the meat section wanting to buy a delicious pork tenderloin to smoke on the grill at home, but found none to purchase because of a bottleneck at the packing plant, what would he do? Would he go to three more stores looking for pork tenderloin? Probably not. He most likely would make an alternative purchase to substitute, or purchase no meat at all. That is the last time on May 7 he will have to purchase a pork tenderloin and a lost sale for the pork industry on that day. Those lost lasts of meat purchases can never be regained. They all add up and further contribute to the devastation of an already devastated meat supply chain.
Considering the endless lost lasts out there can quickly become overwhelming. There can be bright spots in all of this, though, by finding firsts. This is, after all, the first pandemic of our era.
Local meat marketers and processors are seeing the biggest demand boom in generations, maybe in history. FFA members have found some unique ways to serve their communities and build new experiences to celebrate in ways they have never been able to do before. More open schedules can allow for different opportunities to try new types of summer adventures ahead. Families have found ways to get much closer in the home while they expand social distance beyond their walls.
At my house, there have been a few more baseball games in the yard, there is some extra time spent together on projects around the house and there are ample opportunities for normally elusive snuggles on the couch. And, in light of recent conversations, maybe it is high time for a one-man fourth grade talent show in the living room.