But first let me address a circumstance I created. My last column took snarky to another level for a few folks. It also elevated my version of humor to others. In retrospect, I can see how both reactions occurred.
I wrote that column in frustration. Not only for me, but also students; fellow citizens; folks at home who want to work; people losing life-long investments in time, effort and money in their businesses; and everyone else affected by COVID-19. Did I direct my frustration at one man? Yes I did.
Because when you come down to it, everything happening in Colorado is based on one man’s decisions. Decisions our governor has gone on the record stating he doesn’t want to make. He’d rather instill his social programs and belief system. Yet that’s what happens with politics. Elections have citizens living with the decisions of someone with whom they completely disagree For right now, that’s me. Even more so under COVID-19, I’m forced to live under decisions I completely disagree with coming from folks with which I agree 99 percent of the time. It’s the strangest of times.
Here’s one decision I won’t change, and it affects people who agree with me most of the time as well as those who disagree with me most of the time, except when they don’t. I write how I write. It’s a gift and a curse. And it’s always, ALWAYS, at great risk with advertisers and readers. Because I’ve won some and lost some based on a column. I’ve also had folks do both in the same year.
One thing I’ve consistently been told over the past 20 years is this: When I read your column, it’s like sitting across the table from you talking, joking or being serious. Regardless of which, I hear your voice. I’ve also been told it’s rare for someone to have that quality. So for last week, perhaps a wake up call is in order about tone, or volume or to keep those around you in mind while sounding off. Fair enough.
But I won’t change my take, emotion or passion on a topic. Someone who disagrees with plenty once said, “If you’re going to write an opinion column, it’s no good if you aren’t stirring the pot.” Or in the case of COVID-19, the cauldron. Consider the pot stirred.
This brings us to the graduates of the high school class of 2020 in the Grand Valley. I’m not discounting anyone else’s graduates — as I’m sure someone will point out — but I have a senior. And she’s a senior who very much desired to walk across a stage at the same time this paper was in production. She’s got a lot of friends who feel exactly the same way. And just like her old man, more than a few who don’t. Neither of which is the point.
The point is these deserving kids have had their senior year upended by people they have zero control over. Decisions are being made for kids old enough to die for their country by people afraid to come out of their offices or who kowtow to the governor. There’s enough about our governor and the information he controls to go on for 10 more columns, but let’s stick to the kids.
This isn’t about putting Colorado in danger. It about giving people accurate information upon which to make appropriate decisions. To date, every reaction is based on models proven significantly wrong. Every. Single. Time. It wasn’t a month or so ago our governor said we could have between 400 and 40,000 Coloradans dead by mid- to late April. The only thing I know about that projection is this: One should have never made a decision based on it. The kids deserve better.
But what happened because of it? Schools stayed closed and the prospects for fall opening remain bleak. With that outlook and fear driving their decisions, the powers that be took away proms, last days of school with hugs and goodbyes from life-long friends — and, of course, the seminal moment for any senior: walking across a stage to receive a diploma.
Our superintendent and Mesa County School District 51 have embraced this way of thinking and taken the easy way out in keeping everything shut down. Worse, our schools took the time to come up with their best graduation plans only to back off within a day because most students and parents complained. Now they say wait until June 22 for a plan, because by then the governor’s rules will have changed. It’s as if they wanted complaints to stop instead of working within the community to make the hard decisions to hold graduations.
You know who’s making decisions, standing up to the governor and saying here’s what’s best? The seniors.
The seniors at Fruita Monument High School scheduled at silent ceremony along the main thoroughfare in Fruita to protest. I’m proud my kiddo was involved with the rogue committee organizing the event.
School District 51 could have used this time to achieve its greatest teaching moment about our nation and freedom. Instead, seniors were forced to become the teachers.