At least nine area superintendents have a child in the Class of 2020.
Senior year hasn’t exactly gone the way many students had planned.
There’s been no swings of the bat or track meets. No senior skip day, awards banquets or proms. Even graduation won’t include the normal ceremonies in front of a crowd of family and friends.
For a group of top educators, the closing of school brought on by the coronavirus pandemic is more personal.
At least nine area school administrators have children among the Class of 2020.
Lake Superintendent Kevin Tobin finds solace in that he understands what the parents of his senior class are feeling. His son, Brady, is set to graduate from Lake.
"I’ve been down that road before. I had two graduate from Lake and they had all the pomp and circumstance that is well deserved," he said. "I’ve often said the most important day is graduation and honoring our young people."
This is a tough lesson, Tobin said, and a great learning opportunity for his son and his son’s peers.
"Disappointment is going to come. It’s called life," he said. "This is why each day is important."
Dalton Local Superintendent Jim Saxer looked forward to handing his daughter, Dallas, her diploma. Instead, he’ll be standing in the audience with her mom and sister as his oldest daughter walks across the stage.
It’s disappointing, but Saxer is taking a different perspective. He looks at what is handed to him as an obstacle, figuring out how to overcome and adapt.
It’s a philosophy he has had long before COVID-19 changed the world.
That attitude and his daughter’s dreams have helped Dallas get where she wants to be: On her way to becoming an opera singer.
In the fall, she leaves for the Mannes School of Music at The New School in Brooklyn to study classical voice performance.
"We are definitely heartbroken, but she is ready to move on into the next stage of her life," Saxer said.
While making decisions to cancel prom and alter graduation were difficult, the educators said their personal connection to the graduates didn’t sway their decisions.
It gave insight into how seniors were feeling, Fairless Local Superintendent Broc Bidlack said.
His son, Adam, a standout football player at Dalton, is the youngest of Bidlack’s four children.
"I’ve tried to understand and just listen and let him be disappointed," Bidlack said. "I’ve always tried to be positive and encourage him to stay positive."
Luke Murphy, son of R.G. Drage Director Dan Murphy, said its unfortunate the virus has canceled most of the great things about his senior year, but he is grateful his family and friends are safe and healthy.
The hardest part has been not seeing friends. They talk on social media and FaceTime, but it’s not the same as face-to-face contact.
"I think he is understanding there are bigger things out there," Dan Murphy said of his son, a senior at Washington High School.
Despite the changes to graduation and other end-of-the-year events, Dan Murphy said Massillon has gone above and beyond to recognize the seniors.
Luke Murphy has been focusing on next year and playing football at Kent State University.
"Considering everything that is going on, we are pretty lucky in a lot of ways," his dad said.
Like his counterparts, Murphy wonders what next year holds for his son.
Summer sessions at Kent, which were supposed to start at the end of the month, have been pushed to July 9.
Will he be heading to Kent for class or remote learning? Will there be a football season?
The elder Murphy says all they can do is stay positive.
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