The past two weekends I have gotten to watch as some young adults had a chance to get a little normality back in their lives.
First, there were the pre-prom events and graduation at Drexel. That same weekend there were 24 teams competing in a softball tournament at North Park. Last Friday night, I attended both the Adrian graduation ceremonies and a “Grad Recognition Night” dance, which The South Cass Tribune sponsored for students at Harrisonville High School.
If I saw anything in common at the events, it was how much kids are just wanting to be kids.
I am impressed with attitude of the seniors I have spoken with. While most all would say they enjoyed their extended break from school, it is difficult to appreciate what was lost in terms of sports, music, FFA, FBLA, forensics, school plays and many other activities of which I am not familiar. But they speak less of the disappointment and more in appreciation for the things they are being permitted to do.
The softball tournament was not actually a local thing. Teams came from all over the country. But for a group of people used to playing three months plus of tournaments each summer, you could see the joy and enthusiasm in players and family alike.
There was finally some regularity to their schedule. As a side note, the comments from parents and officials alike were very positive about the facilities and reception in Harrisonville. Many noted they hoped North Park became an annual stop on their tournament tour.
While graduation ceremonies are fairly routine from year to year, you can see a special sense of appreciation this year. These kids had to wait a long time for their diploma walks. Not only that, but many hadn’t seen one another in months so the joy of one last night together is genuine. I am sure the same will be true at commencements at HHS, Sherwood, Archie and Midway which are still to come.
The students were excited at the pre-prom in Drexel and it was fun watching them parade past parents and friends to load into a bus to travel to the prom dinner and dance.
But even with that experience, I was not prepared for the atmosphere at the Grad Recognition Night. As a little background, a prom had reportedly been planned for HHS students. But the prom was cancelled and several students and parents worked
to make an alternative dance work. It is easy to understand the school’s position as a date was set, but the COVID-19 restrictions had not yet been officially rescinded.
When we at the Tribune were approached about sponsoring the event, we knew the restrictions were ending and working with parents made the situation more manageable.
Since it was not an official prom, there wasn’t the pressure to attend or participate that might have been in place otherwise, so it was easy for the students and parents to decide for themselves whether they wanted to participate.
The result was a group of kids who really wanted to be there and were simply determined to have a good time. As many entered, they saw friends, some for the first time since March, and raced to embrace and catch up. I have been to many school dances and I would say I saw more actual dancing this time than I can remember before. These folks came ready to hit the dance floor and many stayed on it virtually the whole night.
It was also obvious from their demeanors they were just happy to have a chance to celebrate, and they took advantage of it.
We as a newspaper have been involved in sponsorship of many events, but I never remember having the beneficiaries being as grateful as they were Friday night. We thought it was important for the young adults to celebrate.
We also thought it was important to the business community to allow the partiers to buy formal clothes, buy flowers and go out to eat. My only regret is since some of the other schools in the area also lost out on prom. I wish we could have found a way to help them party as well.