GREENSBORO — The school year is over, and yet the Class of 2020 is still searching for the right answer.

Or, rather, the rite answer.

For ours is a society that values rituals. Weddings. Funerals. Even the simple act of shaking hands.

All have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

And the socially-distanced seniors of Guilford County Schools, who did not set foot inside a classroom after March 16, lost a powerful, symbolic rite of passage.


Friday, June 5, was the last day of school on the GCS calendar. That day was supposed to begin a long weekend chock full of 15 graduation ceremonies at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, three days of inspirational speeches and family gatherings, of rituals marking the passage from childhood to young adulthood.

Instead, the Class of 2020 got drive-thru ceremonies outside their school buildings, starting June 4 and wrapping up this Monday.

If they’re lucky, and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, the State Board of Education and the Centers for Disease Control concur that it’s safe to hold in-person graduations, then Guilford County Schools tentatively plans to hold ceremonies from July 22 through 28.

But that’s far from guaranteed.

We revisit six seniors — three boys and three girls from six different schools throughout the county — as they share stories of this odd ending to their final year of high school

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