Thank you seniors
I wanted to touch on a subject that has been pulling at my heartstrings ever since it was announced that schools were being closed, springs sports were postponed, and most notably, the day the Houston Stock Show was cancelled.
I have been doing what I do here in Bowie County for a long time. Long enough in fact that the senior class of 2020 was in 1st grade when I came back to the Tribune.
Those little girls and boys that I took pictures of on the playgrounds of their elementary schools are now young adults, perched on the cusp of adulthood. Many will go off to college in the fall, entering a brave new world filled with challenges that they have never faced before. Others will enter the workforce. They will be out there building fences, welding pipes, working retail, or working in restaurants.
Regardless of what lies ahead, they have spent the last decade working towards today.
The disruption of their lives caused by this virus, is simply unfair. To spend 12 years working toward a goal and then have the best parts of their final year marred by something out of their control has to be hard to take. In danger now are their senior proms, graduation ceremonies, and achievements in the field of sports.
Many names come to mind when I think of all of this. Many of them I have known since they were those little girls in pigtails and little boys playing in the dirt. I have seen them holding their perfect attendance cards, square dancing in a little gym, and buying books at the annual book fair. I have seen them in little league and at countless award ceremonies.
Names like Jaycee Clark, who isn’t getting to spend her senior softball season out on the diamond. Much like Carlee Ratcliff, a young lady that lives to have a bat in her hand, can’t even go to practice. Track athletes like Grace Duffer and Carleigh Reeves, speedsters without a track to run on, and one of the best high jumpers in the state, Chloe Davis, not allowed to make her run and leap into the sky.
And then there are all of those seniors out there who live the Ag life, and this was their final go round in a show pen. They were sent home, empty handed, from Houston, with everything they had worked for seemingly thrown out the barn door like a bucket of dirty water. One of those good kids was Skyler Starrett, and another close to my heart is Taylor Williams.
I have known Taylor since she was one of those little girls in grade school. My own kids babysat her and her brother John Michael. In recent years, I have watched closely as Taylor has excelled in sports, but has reached extraordinary heights in the show arenas across the State of Texas with her animals.
This week, Taylor took her last laps around the show ring. Thanks to some kindhearted, generous folks, an alternative show was put together to give other young adults just like Taylor, one last go-round. Her mama sent me some pictures this morning, and what struck me instantly was this. Although Taylor knew this was her last show, she knew the years of hard work, dedication and countless hours of prep work were about to be over, the determination in her eyes to do well shone like the sun.
People often tell me that we are in for a doomed future with these “snowflakes” that are poised to be the next generation of leaders in America. Today, I am hopeful. If the next generation of our leaders are anything like Taylor, and Carlee, Grace, Jaycee and so many other good “kids” that I know, we will be ok.
I say, “Thank You” to all of the seniors out there for giving us 12 years of their lives to follow, document and cherish. And, if it happens that the year is over, revel in the fact that you are all blue ribbon winners and then go on to the next level, and kick some butt.