Editorial: Back to the future for class of 2021

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 27, 2021

Every year’s graduating class enters a world with a slightly different bounty of possibilities in front of them.

Some years, including for the class of 2020, events like the COVID-19 pandemic temporarily close off some paths, change expectations or require a pivot to new plans.

Things were particularly unusual for graduating high school seniors who set off for college, were confined to virtual lectures for learning, couldn’t enjoy the traditional experience that contributes to the appeal of big, public schools or play full college sports seasons.

This year, it’s back to the future.

That most major COVID-19 restrictions are gone means graduates can reach for dreams largely unencumbered by pandemic related challenges. Entrepreneurial-minded youngsters can dream up the next big invention knowing that supply chain problems are unlikely to be affected by lockdowns. Businesses challenged by the pandemic can recruit qualified employees with hope that the country isn’t in for a second recession shortly after a COVID-19 induced one. Being vaccinated will help a lot.

Technological changes will continue to change job options for new graduates and shorten career lengths for others. Still, graduates in the class of 2021 can generally look forward to a growing economy and communities eager to return to the state of things in February 2020. That means more jobs, events and optimism.

It’s particularly good that Rowan-Salisbury Schools students are led by an administration focused on ensuring graduates enroll in a training or degree program, get a job or enlist in the military. Four-year and graduate degrees are not the only path for the masses to obtain a financially stable, happy life. As the Charlotte region continues to grow, there will be a need for more people with bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees, but there will also be demand for coders, builders and people who can learn a trade through programs that are two years or less.

After local high schools host graduation ceremonies on Saturday morning, many of Rowan County’s best and brightest graduates will go elsewhere for school and their first job. After graduates are done exploring possibilities the world has to offer, they shouldn’t forget about Rowan County — where they were raised and can raise a family of their own.