One for the History Books: Graduation during the Pandemic

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 06/23/2020 - 21:29
Saline Board of Education 2020
The Saline Area School Board of Education pose at the start of a remarkable day. Photo shared by Jennifer Steben.


When we visit the Weber-Blaess One-Room School, we can try to imagine what life might have been like for the children who went there. I find myself looking for clues as to what they might have been thinking or dreaming about when school was in session decades ago.

We have a pretty good idea of what would soon occur in the lives of students just over 100 years ago. With the benefit of our historical hindsight, we know they would soon see the huge growth of the automobile and the telephone. Records show that in 1918 the school did not yet have electricity. At that time, early airplanes were fueling young imaginations and a long war an ocean away was occupying the concerns of their teachers.

At the Saline Area Schools graduation ceremony this weekend, Principal David Raft made reference to the resilience of our students today “despite a once in a century pandemic.” Photographs of students from 1918 often showed them in handmade masks. During our four smaller ceremonies this past weekend with students separated and socially distanced, many of them crossed the stage wearing their masks and received an elbow bump from their Principal.

I truly hope they all felt recognized, appreciated, and honored.

To thank the administration and staff for putting on such an exceptional graduation ceremony, the current board of education has added to the district’s archive of historical images and documents . . . a group photograph that was taken during the most unusual graduation celebration of the last century. All seven of the school board, Tim Austin, Susan Estep, Paul Hynek, Heidi Pfannes, Jennifer Steben, Michael McVey, and Dennis Valenti are represented . . . and masked.

I would like to hope that students a hundred years hence will look at this image and be grateful for all the medical advances made in the years since this photo was taken.

Congratulations, Class of 2020! We are here for you, we support you, and we wish you all the best on your journey.


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