David Lias

I have not yet succumbed to tik tok, one of the latest social media platforms that evidently lets you produce and share short videos filled with all sorts of special effects.

A few weeks ago, a half dozen or so Vermillion High Schools girls (young women, actually) posted a tik tok on Facebook (a social media platform that I have succumbed to) that shows them in grubby clothes but in a split second they transform into wearing the gowns they would have been dazzling us all with at this year’s prom.

It makes your heart sink a bit because COVID-19 means there was no prom this year; there was no opportunity to see many of our community’s young women and men participate in that event’s Grand March one last time.

Another gut-punching aspect of that short video is I’m pretty sure I remember taking the photo of one of the young women when she was just a little thing, performing in her elementary class’s holiday concert in the Thomas H. Craig Performing Arts Center.

I don’t remember the year that this concert was held. I’m pretty sure the performing arts center was only a few years old and I and other audience members were enjoying the new perspectives this somewhat new setting provided.

I sat in the front row, snapping photos of kids that were only a few feet away from me on a well-lit stage and I remember in particular hitting the shutter button when my viewfinder was filled with an image of indescribable cuteness -- a young girl with an angelic face topped by neatly styled hair, wearing a fancy holiday dress, singing her heart out under the bright lights.

I’m pretty sure the photo made it to the front page of the Plain Talk a few days later and I’ve wished my memory was a bit sharper so I could narrow down the year and find that issue and that photo in our library.

Because change, at times, is a good thing. I could probably insert all sorts of pithy sayings about change here, but admit it. We know change is coming, we expect it, in fact, to the point where we count on it. Change is definitely going to happen. And I think it’s good to look back, to see how things once were and compare them to how they are today.

Has the young girl who sang in the Christmas concert transformed into a well-rounded, well-educated, successful young woman today? She has? Well, that change, while being inevitable, is a good thing.

Sure, there are times we wish we could make it stop. The shock of sudden change is normally eased just a bit when boys and girls transform over the years into young men and young women because they’re part of our community and they are also raised, collectively, by our community.

If I had known that the last good person-to-person glimpse of members of the Vermillion High School Class of 2020 would be before they had their spring break last March, I would have looked a bit closer earlier this school year. I would have taken more photos. I would have done things to hopefully ease the longing that I’m presently feeling.

I grew up on a farm and at times it seems there can be no two professions more different than farming and editing a newspaper.

Except that both lines of work revolve around seasons.

There are certain things that you expect to do, that you, in fact, look forward to doing as each new season arrives. Farmers are in the midst of calving and working with the soil and getting this year’s crop in. It’s a familiar, rewarding time.

This is the season when I should be elbow-to-elbow with parents and grandparents, taking photos of the Grand March, or watching second graders plant a new community tree for Arbor Day.

There are band and chorus concerts that aren’t being performed, there are teens you first saw when they were scrawny kids taking part in the Fun Run that should be whizzing by on the track at Howard Wood Field or executing the perfect golf swing during a competition at The Bluffs.

None of that is happening because we’ve been dealt such a different “kind” of change this spring.

In about a week, the VHS Class of 2020 will graduate in a commencement ceremony that you and I couldn’t have dreamed of last fall.

It will be a “virtual” ceremony -- pieces of pre-recorded video spliced together and shown the afternoon of May 16 via a medium like YouTube or the school’s web page or something -- a medium that the public can easily access with today’s technology.

We all wish we could be together on that day, sitting on the sidelines in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center as we hear members of the senior class speak to us, in person, and sing to us one last time, in person, and we watch, in person, as they’re presented their diplomas.

This year, we’ll have to watch all of that happen on the screens of our computers. It’s a bit of change we’ll have to accept while remembering that it in no way diminishes what these young women and men have accomplished in the past 12 years or so.

And, look on the bright side. The ceremony won’t be on tik tok. Congratulations, Class of 2020.


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