Astoria High School seniors

Astoria High School students gathered at the Astoria Column in April when the landmark was awash in purple and gold.

There is no asterisk required for the Class of 2020.

There is no, “Yes, but ...” needed to characterize their final school year.

Of course, spring sports and music contest records will say, “Not held in 2020.”

But as educators on the North Coast will attest, in completing their studies to meet graduation requirements, students in the Class of 2020 have demonstrated they have the flexibility and stick-with-it-ness to succeed in ways their elder brothers and sisters never imagined.

The options facing high school graduates from Astoria, Seaside, Warrenton, Knappa, Jewell, Ilwaco and Naselle remain the same. Further education and trade schools beckon. Many institutions of higher learning have successfully adapted to remote teaching methods — their credentials are no less valid. Trade schools, once they resume normalcy, continue to be a viable option. Society has long since grasped the reality that we need skilled plumbers and electricians just as much as doctors, lawyers and academics.

The work world will have changed, however.

A recent article in The Atlantic mentions that the 3.7 million high school graduates will enter the adult world in one of its most bleak times, with the effects of the economic shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic continuing and observers predicting a prolonged nationwide downturn. “The Class of 2020 has some extraordinarily rotten luck to graduate right now, and the unfortunate timing could set many of them back financially and professionally for years,” the magazine noted.

While that’s a sensible dose of realism, we prefer to take a more optimistic view.

The pandemic and the associated shutdown has sparked a fresh interest in questioning some very core assumptions of our society. Permanent employment disappeared as a concept some decades ago. But what will the future of the workplace be now that we have revealed who the real “key workers” are and embraced the use of technology to demonstrate that many more people can work remotely?

The pandemic has also revealed the commonplace acceptance of tying the affordability of health care to employment as a precarious situation, though changing that is a discussion for another day.

Today’s graduates, who can now vote, of course, need to determine what sort of society they are going to build for themselves. They should lead that discussion, because soon our world will be theirs.

As we welcome their voices, let’s pause to thank those who have helped them get to this stage. The switch from classroom teaching to a distance-learning approach using computer technology was accomplished by educators almost overnight. It was so remarkable that one observer likened it to the Apollo 13 astronauts who encountered serious problems in their spacecraft and jerry-rigged an emergency solution that brought them home to Earth.

Parents have joined with school staff to try to ensure they have not missed out on graduation experiences, using filmed options, motorized parades and other “safety-first” approaches to simulate their end-of-school ritual.

And organizations like the widely admired Astoria High School Scholarships Inc., have continued their year-round work to help provide the financial cushion to help pay for the graduates’ next phase of higher education. The generous dollar amounts being distributed again this year — $313,000 — are nothing short of remarkable.

So today we join educators, parents and family members in saluting the Class of 2020 from the five high schools on the North Coast and their counterparts at the two districts across the river in Washington state.

They have endured the loss of one-third of their senior year. And those involved in music, drama, sports and other activities have lost an opportunity to bond with their teammates and shine on the playing field or stage.

But they have adapted and overcome.

They have proved their resilience.

And they deserve our applause as they head out into the adult world.

There is no asterisk required for the Class of 2020.

Let’s all toss our caps in the air to celebrate their achievements and wish them well.