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Never in my life did I imagine that we would be living in a time of a pandemic where the term “social distancing” would become the norm and that the country would have been shut down for as long as it has. For example, back in March when we all learned that the government would be shutting down the country, many believed it would only be for a few weeks. Now in our third month, many are ready for the soft opening. However, the beginning of the pandemic was unnerving as coronavirus cases began to exponentially increase in certain parts of the country. Certain jobs were determined to be “essential,” whereas others were deemed “nonessential.” As safer-at-home orders increased, so did unemployment and the need for assistance for basic necessities. As the number of people that have passed away from COVID-19 surpasses 100,000, we may not be out of the woods just yet as the potential for a surge exists. Be safe, be nice and help others where you can.

One of the groups largely impacted by the pandemic has been our collective graduating class of 2020. All across our nation, students who are graduating this month would have never imagined they would not be able to participate in a graduation ceremony where family and friends would cheer as their name was being announced when they received their diploma. All across San Pedro, I am joined by many of my friends who have children, like I do, that would have celebrated graduation this year. Although the traditional graduation ceremony is gone, new ways to celebrate our graduates are beginning to emerge.    

Luca Pirozzi

My son Luca is part of the San Pedro High School Class of 2020 and the last of our boys to graduate from high school. So our family truly understands the empty feeling many are experiencing at this time. Through it all though, we have been witness to the resiliency and innovation of the Class of 2020. For example, although our graduates have been disappointed to say the least, they have demonstrated their ability to adjust to stay-at-home orders, adapt to new methods of learning, and understand the need to sacrifice their senior year for the well-being of others. This experience will not only live with them forever but will make them stronger for what lies ahead in their lives. This will be their “I remember when” moment, and they will use this experience to shape the world, drive new technologies, develop new methods of communication, innovate new medicines and better prepare humanity for the
future.

As I watched Luca through this pandemic, I think back to the little kid in the stroller when Carolyn would take Antonio and Vincent to Taper elementary school and his ability to talk with adults. I look to his accomplishments in sports from little league to San Pedro High School as part of the 2018 CIF Varsity Football Division I City champions. A kid who loves being part of Holy Trinity Church Life Teen. I look to a kid, soon to be an adult, prepare to transition from a SPHS Pirate to a San Jose State University Spartan this fall. I have seen a kid overcome adversity through the years in school, which has made him stronger and smarter. His ability to focus on what’s important in life and shed the nonsense that comes with being a teenager has been impressive. Most of all, during COVID-19, I have seen him dive into what he loves the most, producing music. After years of learning to produce music at the Boys and Girls Club, Luca used this time to assemble the equipment needed to build a similar capability at home. Truly inspiring.

As parents, we have experienced our child’s educational struggles, accomplishments, challenges and successes with the culmination being a graduation ceremony. Although we will not get a traditional graduation ceremony this year, what we do have are great kids that persevered and succeeded to get to this point in their life. Accomplishing graduation during a pandemic will make them stronger for the rest of their lives. The resilient Class of 2020 will be remembered forever. Proud of you Luca and the Class of 2020! spt

Photo of Anthony Pirozzi for San Pedro Today magazine

Anthony Pirozzi, Jr.

Anthony Pirozzi, Jr. is a Los Angeles Harbor Commissioner. He can be contacted at apirozzi@yahoo.com.

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