Photo from Columbus High School Graduation
In the last month, we brought a little joy for nearly 1,000 high school seniors whose final year of high school was forced off track due to the pandemic. Over a four-day span we hosted the graduations for Columbus High School, Palm Glades Preparatory Academy and Chambers High School. This came on the heels of honoring the scholarship recipients of the Homestead Rotary Club on June 4.
This pandemic has forced the upheaval of many lives – some worse than others – and very rare has it been by choice. This period has brought about a great deal of despair for a lot of families, and many don’t know when things will return to the way they used to be. Or if they will ever do so.
Adolescence is marked by many milestones. Whether it be riding a bike or sports, there are certain events that we can look back on and reflect with fondness. Certainly one of these is school, and high school graduations.
For the students who comprise the Class of 2020 – whether it be high school or college – most will not have that moment of recalling walking on stage to accept their diploma, turning that tassel from the right to left side or flipping that cap high into the air. They are a few of the things synonymous with a graduation, and everyone should have that memory embedded in their minds to share for the rest of their lives.
To see the smiles on these students’ faces is one of the most rewarding sites that I have observed in my 25 years at the track. And this includes all of the championship moments celebrated here. Our youth deserves to have as many of these landmark events preserved as possible, and we are glad that we were able to play a small role in that. And I say small because that’s what we were built to do more than 25 years ago, and it’s the students who did all of the hard work to earn this moment.
For many, they now can look back and say that they received their diploma on the same spot that Jimmie Johnson clinched a NASCAR-record seven championships. That’s pretty special, and something that not a lot of graduating seniors can boast. So while these students were deprived of a traditional graduation, they now will be able to look back many years from now and think what a “cool” graduation they were able to have because of the pandemic.
And so much in our lives is having the ability to take a difficult situation and making the most of it, and often times coming out better as a result. As I learned a long time ago, a person’s true character is revealed not in times of prosperity, but in times of adversity.
For these students and many others like them, these times have undoubtedly produced much adversity. This will help them as they move along in life, whether it is in their academic careers, professional paths or personal lives.
They all went through a lot to get to where they are today, and the diplomas they received at our track were certainly well-deserved. On behalf of everyone at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we want to wish the entire Class of 2020 in South Florida all the best as you turn the page to the next chapter in your lives!