Aminata Dia | Broad Run graduate

Broad Run High School Class of 2020 graduate Aminata Dia stands with her family during a small graduation ceremony at the Ashburn school on Monday.

Congrats, Class of 2020. We can promise you no one will forget your graduating year.

We know these past few months aren't what you had in mind for closing out your high school career, but revel in the life lesson: Roll with the punches; look after your neighbors; stand up for what is right; and accept that some things like a global pandemic are just out of your control.

Broad Run High School graduating senior Aanchal Dubey, featured on this week's front page, has it right: Find a way to smile through it. (OK, we can't actually see the smile through the mask, but we know it's there.)

What's next? Well, the 2020 graduates aren't the only ones asking that question these days. The lively up-and-comers join just about everyone around the globe in wondering what the next few months and years will look like. Hopefully a second wave of COVID-19 isn't on the horizon, and our graduates will get to enter their next phase relatively uninterrupted by this novel virus.

Whether it's a traditional four-year college, vocational training, the workforce, military service or maybe some travel, enjoy it.

Pause, relax and take a breath. Thank God you can, and fight for those who can't.

In the years ahead, flirt with lots of passions. Land on one or two or three. Let those passions drive you, let those flirtations help you flourish.

The Times-Mirror is big on passions. Like the broad and diverse world, our staffers' interests vary, but in our professional lives those passions converge on the overarching cause of truth and information and empowerment. We want to use our passions to help our community.

We urge you to do the same, Class of 2020: Let your passions lead you to help others. Now as much as ever, the world needs it.

Still, while we insist that helping others be your guiding light, we also nudge you to take time for yourself. Our younger generation is fortunate to come of age with an emphasis on the concepts of self-care, self-love and a greater awareness of mental health and physical well-being. Don't take these things for granted. Often, you can't take care of others if you aren't taking care of yourself.

Like Dubey's classmate Aminata Dia, pictured above, try to keep family at the forefront. There will be fights. There will be mistakes. There will be turmoil. But, with the exception of extreme and unfortunate cases, your family will be there for you. They're the ones who will always love you unconditionally. The only motive they'll have in offering their insight is seeing you succeed. As the years go on, you'll discover how rare and special that is.

Learn, grow, be kind. Be aware. Be, in the parlance of the day, woke.

We'll leave the final words to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.”

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