‘You will have your graduation’ | Superintendent directs message to Livingston Parish seniors in video

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The Livingston Parish Class of 2020 dealt with the Great Flood of 2016 in the first semester of its freshman year and the coronavirus in the last semester of its senior year. Pictured, top row from left, are Alyssa Crayton, of Albany High; Gannon Allison, of French Settlement High; Ella Otken, of Denham Springs High; Lane Courtney, of Holden High; and Madison Duhon, of Doyle High. Pictured, bottom row from left, are Lawrence Pierre, of Live Oak High; Bryce Felps, of Maurepas High; Mason Sibley, of Springfield High; and Shelby Dorough, of Walker High.
Graphic by Paul Hatton

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep over the state and the nation, Superintendent Joe Murphy directed a message to all seniors in the Livingston Parish Public Schools system.

The Class of 2020 will be celebrated.

“Today, I might not be able to tell you what that looks like or when that even might be,” Murphy said. “We will absolutely celebrate you as our Class of 2020.”

Murphy spoke to some 1,500 seniors in a video that was uploaded to the school system’s social media platforms on Friday, March 27.

In the 3-minute video, which also featured photos of the upperclassmen from all nine high schools, Murphy told seniors they would have their graduation and prom, two of the most anticipated events for seniors in their final semester of high school. He also said, at this moment, that school is scheduled to resume on Monday, April 20, unless new factors or orders arise. 

Events such as graduations and proms — not to mention a return to school — have been in jeopardy ever since Gov. John Bel Edwards announced a statewide closure of all schools to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, which reached 3,315 positive cases and 137 deaths in Louisiana as of Saturday afternoon.

Murphy said he and the principals of the area high schools have made “a promise” to hold graduation for seniors, though it is uncertain at this time when that will be or where.

“Seniors, this is a promise from the superintendent and from our principals — you will have your graduation,” Murphy said. “You will have your prom. We will celebrate you as the Class of 2020 for Livingston Parish schools.”

Despite the entire state dealing with the public health emergency, it marked another obstacle for the Livingston Parish Class of 2020.

Livingston Parish seniors have now encountered two life-altering events to bookend their high school careers. In their first semester as freshmen, they experienced the Great Flood of 2016. In their final semester as seniors, they’re dealing with the novel coronavirus.

Murphy mentioned the hardships these seniors have faced in their high school careers. But instead of looking at these obstacles as disadvantages, Murphy encouraged seniors to “be thankful.”

“Be thankful that you’ve faced these obstacles and you’ve overcome these obstacles,” Murphy said. “These things will only make you stronger as you make your way through life. Some will say you were disadvantaged by these. I would argue that point. I would say that you’re advantaged by these things that occurred to you because it will make you stronger.

“And if you can overcome all these things as a high school student, imagine what your future holds for you moving forward.”

Below is a transcript of Murphy’s message to the Livingston Parish Class of 2020. To view the video, click here

“Hello everyone,

“My name is Joe Murphy, and I’m superintendent for the Livingston Parish Public Schools. This announcement is going out today especially for our seniors, our class of 2020.

“Seniors I want to assure you of some things today. We very, very much appreciate your efforts you’ve given us throughout your careers here in Livingston Parish public Schools. We understand that you, as freshman, faced the flood, and then, as seniors, are here facing the coronavirus at this time.

“I want to make you aware of a couple of things. First of all, seniors, I know that you miss each other. I know that you miss your friends. We are going to be back in school. Right now, our return date is April 20, and we plan to move forward unless we’re directed otherwise.

“I wanted to assure you of a couple of other things, too. Seniors, this is a promise from the superintendent and from our principals. You will have your graduation. You will have your prom. We will celebrate you as the Class of 2020 for Livingston Parish schools. Today, I might not be able to tell you what that looks like or when that even might be. We will absolutely celebrate you as our Class of 2020. You’ll be given the opportunity to graduate and celebrate your success right here from our parish schools.

“I’d like to talk to you for just a minute about something else. As you know, you’ve faced many trials and tribulations in your high school career here. As freshmen, the flood happened, and now, as seniors, this happens. I want you to take a few minutes and be thankful for some things. Be thankful that you’ve faced these obstacles and you’ve overcome these obstacles. These things will only make you stronger as you make your way through life.

“Some will say you were disadvantaged by these. I would argue that point. I would say that you’re advantaged by these things that occurred to you because it will make you stronger. And if you can overcome all these things as a high school student, imagine what your future holds for you moving forward.

“Once again, we want to take this opportunity to send this message out to our Class of 2020 and our seniors and assure you that we are going to celebrate you as a class. Thank you for everything you’ve done for us, and please keep us in your prayers as we have you in our prayers.”

By David Gray | The News

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