By Kayla Anderson

The Mineral County High School Class of 2020 started out on a roll this year. Its senior-led boys varsity basketball team won the state championship and the girls basketball team was the state runner-up.
“We have quite a talented group of athletes and academics,” Mineral County School District Superintendent Karen Watson says. Senior valedictorian Katie McCune has already earned her associate degree before her high school diploma and another recently tried out for The Voice. “She’ll be singing the national anthem at graduation,” beams Watson.
She believes that the silver lining of COVID-19 pandemic is looking at all that the 21 graduating students have accomplished in their time at Hawthorne and how they’ve been able to adapt and stay optimistic throughout these unsettling times.
“The kids have always maintained composure, they’re a cohesive and strong group. I think they’re an indication of a positive future in this country. Not once have I ever heard them complain. They’re flexible and nothing has stopped their dreams,” she says, despite missing out memorable moments like prom, grad night, and the spring season of sports where the high school really shines. Thankfully, the younger generation is more technologically inclined and easily adaptable to virtual communication. Many students are already taking online college courses and are used to it, along with being in tune with social media.
It was also suggested that the Class of 2020 could be more resilient because many seniors were born in 2001 when the 9/11 tragedy happened.
“Their whole lives have been marked by major milestones. I can see them being the group of people that sees beyond that; they’re going to be the movers and shakers that keep the country going,” Watson says. “I see the Class of 2020 being more reflective and making an impact in the future,” she adds.
Given the social distancing recommendations students are still seeing each other, but they’ve managed to meet in person and still follow the guidelines. “I’ve seen some meet to play basketball but it’s not a typical game, they’re kind of shooting from the rims. They’re talking, but I never see them in close contact. Kids nowadays create online hangouts, closed groups, and blogs. I keep going back to their resilience…they’re finding different avenues to stay close and handle the situation the way it’s supposed to be. They’re very aware of what needs to be done to keep everybody safe,” Watson says.
However, as MCHS seniors approach the end of their final year, there’s the question of how to best handle graduation to give the students a ceremony that they deserve. The big end-of-the-year event was supposed to be held this Friday, May 29, but Watson is working with the principals and parents to possibly push it back to coincide with the state’s Phase 2 of reopening and perhaps hold an in-person event on June 5.
“The biggest frustration is that we’ll have 21 graduating students and we want have everyone on the field,” Watson says about Mineral County’s upcoming graduation ceremony.
“This is a close class, most of the students have been together since kindergarten and we want to continue with a traditional graduation. This could be the last time some may see each other until a reunion,” Watson adds.
In the meantime, the school will be acknowledging each individual senior by placing banners all around the main street of Hawthorne and working with the local Adopt a Senior program to provide prizes for what would normally be administered during an in-person grad night. After graduation, the school is also putting together a “Serpent Senior Slither”, an event in which MCHS seniors drive cruise-like through town.
“We’re talking about having a luau in July, but it all depends on what the state opens up by that time. The focus is getting to graduation,” Watson says.
Watson’s thoughts of the graduating Class of 2020 are best summed up as this:
“I’ve used the word resilience and flexibility a lot when describing this class and I would just want to tell the Class of 2020 to continue that innate ability to be resilient and flexible. I really think that these students are going to be the movers and shakers of the nation, and because of this pandemic what they have to offer is more significant. I hope they stay true to themselves,” she says.