Somewhere out there on the field Friday evening, there was a little sense of normalcy in a world that is chaotic, at times upside down and often doesn’t make any sense. The Pierce County High School Class of 2020 officially graduated in July — some two months after the originally scheduled date. 

This time of year always takes me back to a warm, lazy June evening in Baxley when I received my diploma. It’s been almost (cough, cough) years. I could figure up the number of years, but I was never very good at math. “I’m so thankful somebody learnt me howe to right and spel.”

While those were days of excitement, they were also days of uneasiness and anxiety for what lay ahead. 

Looking back on that now, I didn’t know how good and how easy I had it.

Graduation is one of those major milestones of life. It was a brilliant day and, as our ceremony ended that evening, a shooting star streaked across the skies over the stadium.

I’ve been many miles since. It was off to college, first, to get a degree. Then, it was out into the world to get a job. I’ve been through only five jobs since I got out of high school and three of those were doing the same thing I’m doing now. I can hardly believe, sometimes, I actually get paid to do something I love.

There has been a lot of water under the proverbial bridge since that June. Some of those experiences have been good and some bad. You know — laughter and tears, triumph and loss and so on. In other words … life. 

In my line of work, I spend a lot of time in-and-out at the schools checking on information for stories and photos and such. Education is one of my beats. There’s something safe and reassuring about being in and out of our schools. I have, at times, wished I could go back for just a little while. Grandma once told me “Son, enjoy these times. School days are the happiest days of your life.”

I didn’t know what she meant then. Now, I understand.

I certainly don’t miss Algebra or polygonal convex sets or quadratic formulas, but I do miss the good  friends and the good times.

Time marches on and, here, another class is graduating.

To say it has been an unusual year would be a grand understatement. There has been lots of upheaval in the lives of our young grads. 

But, I decided to try and think positive Friday night.

It was not nearly as hot as it was at last year’s graduation ceremony — in May. 

I saw bright sunbeams raining down on the class as the sun – and their high school careers – finally reached its pinnacle and set. Despite the heat wave, there were cool breezes. 

That’s fitting for life and for the grads: The future is bright and the journey will be cool.

Blessings and much happiness to all of you, Class of 2020. 

You certainly deserve it.

• Jason Deal is a staff writer for The Blackshear Times. Reach him at