I feel sorry for the editors of big-city newspapers, and not just because so many of them now work for corporations that are constantly looking for ways to eliminate their jobs. Metropolitan newspaper editors suffer a kind of estrangement from their readers, few of whom they actually know. They get letters and emails, certainly, especially from the people who have a complaint, but there are other kinds of reader reactions that editors get only in the more intimate setting of the small-town weekly paper.
That happened to us after we published our issue of June 17, with its special 16-page section about the Outer Cape’s high school class of 2021. We had a good time interviewing seniors from Nauset Regional High School and Cape Cod Tech, and we especially enjoyed the photographs that they sent us to go with their profiles. What an impressive group, we said. Their teachers agreed. We hoped that readers would appreciate getting a look into the lives of their younger neighbors.
But I was surprised by the number of people who told us that our Class of 2021 special section had them in tears. I asked some of them what that was about.
“Suddenly, the full reality of that whole year all came home to me while reading about those sweet kids,” said Melinda Krasting. “It let me think about what high school, especially that final year, is all about — what it meant to me, and what it could and should have been for those kids. And yet, their resilience and positivity was what came through the most. It was very humbling.”
“It was the combination of innocence and the absolute truthfulness of everything they said,” said Wendy Kesselman, the playwright, who told me she couldn’t stop weeping as she read. “I really couldn’t get over it — their attachment to their parents, and to their friends, and that they would always come back to the Cape.”
“I was moved by how much they love this place, how hard it is for some of them to leave it for new places, how they promise to come back,” said Ellen Cassedy. “The range of things they’re doing — someone going to Hawaii, someone else staying here in the family business; the very tough year they’ve just been through, and their surviving it with a sense of hope and a future; the gentle advice they have for one another; how grateful they are for what their teachers gave them; the pictures of them in this beautiful place.”
The kids’ unembarrassed and often eloquent expressions of love for their families and friends, their hopeful plans for travel and study, and their promise to return to us was moving and reminded us of the gifts we still cherish in spite of this past year’s struggles and our fears for the future. One of the greatest of those gifts is our children — this beautiful class of seniors, and all the ones to come.