Kudos to all of the season’s graduates.
They have survived three tumultuous school years, and now they are walking the stage into a time of remarkable uncertainty.
The good news is that they seem very likely to be prepared for it.
In 2017, Hurricanes Irma devastated the territory, leaving many students out of school for weeks before classes resumed in tents and other makeshift facilities on a shift system as the community struggled to get back to its feet.
The 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years were a slog of halting recovery in the education system, with many students left behind as government struggled to repair facilities.
Then even that slow progress was largely stalled when Covid-19 hit last year, sending most students home to learn remotely under a new system that they had to help invent.
Truly, this year’s graduates have endured much, and we are sad that they were cheated out of many experiences that typically accompany a normal course of schooling.
We also worry that they could suffer long-term effects from these issues, particularly given their reduced classroom time over the course of the past three school years. Academically, some of them might have fallen behind their peers from other countries, and they may struggle to catch up.
On the other hand, they surely learned valuable lessons from their trials that can’t be learned in books.
On the practical side, they have now lived and worked in a digital age that promises to be the new normal even after the pandemic. Perhaps more importantly, any of today’s graduates would have learned much about endurance, fortitude, adaptability, flexibility — and, we would like to believe, hope and kindness.
Such lessons are invaluable. These are also precisely the lessons that graduates will need to carry with them as they take their next steps during this uncertain time.
The post-Covid-19 world promises to be anything but normal, and workers who can adapt and be flexible seem likely to thrive in it.
The other good news for graduates is that the pandemic could be over soon. In this event, an economic boom could result as the territory opens its borders for the next tourism season.
This influx could mean good jobs, training opportunities and business openings galore.
Graduates should position themselves to take full advantage. The challenges over the past three years, we suspect, likely gave them tools needed to do exactly that.
We congratulate the Class of 2021 and wish them the best of luck in the future.