Poetry Friday: For The Class Of 2020

May 22, 2020

The Class of 2020 is experiencing a graduation season the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there are no large, group ceremonies and no big after-parties. Commencements are mostly being held online or in parking lots where graduates receive their diplomas drive-thru-style. Sussa Gitomer is about to graduate from the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy. Her plan is to attend Bangor University in Wales, but she doesn’t know yet if that will happen in-person or online. In this week’s Poetry Friday segment, Sussa talks about the strangeness of graduating in the time of COVID-19 and offers a glimmer of hope to the Class of 2020 with a poem by Edgar Albert Guest.

Sussa Gitomer, 18. She graduates this year from Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy
Credit Sussa Gitomer

SG: My name is Sussa Gitomer. I am 18, and I’m a graduating senior from Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy.

I think I had kind of a unique experience with this because I was on a class trip in New York while all of this was going down. We ended up having to come home early because my teachers weren’t sure if the airports were going to close, or what was happening. It all really progressed within that one week that we were gone, so we were kind of like, “Oh. This is serious.” My class saw the last Broadway show that they had for whoever knows how long.

It’s really weird because senior year is supposed to be such a time of bonding with your friends and doing the things you’re not necessarily supposed to do like Senior Ditch Day. We all had plans to go to the creek in Sedona as one class and really have these moments that united us before we left for college and parted ways. But we never really got that. It was such a weird transition from seeing everyone, every day, to now not seeing them for several months. It’s been weird not being able to hug people, or stand close to them and just do the things we normally do.

FALA graduation is usually really long. It’s one of the smallest high schools in Flagstaff with one of the longest graduations because we have performances of all sorts, and that’s not happening this year which is weird. I think, instead, we’re doing kind of a drive-in where people pull up their cars to Ft. Tuthill, and we’re just doing something from there. Still reading letters from family, and we have a little slide show of pictures of people from little kids to now. So, we’re still doing something, but it’s not the same, and there won’t be the graduation parties that everyone looks forward to, and family can’t fly out and see it, so it’s definitely something to adjust to.

Today, I’m going to be reading It Couldn’t Be Done, by Edgar Albert Guest. I think this poem really sums-up what most of the Class of 2020 is feeling, but we’re going to push on, regardless.

 Somebody said that it couldn’t be done

      But he with a chuckle replied

That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one

      Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.

So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin

      On his face. If he worried he hid it.

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

      That couldn’t be done, and he did it!

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;

      At least no one ever has done it;”

But he took off his coat and he took off his hat

      And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.

With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,

      Without any doubting or quiddit,

He started to sing as he tackled the thing

      That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,

      There are thousands to prophesy failure,

There are thousands to point out to you one by one,

      The dangers that wait to assail you.

But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,

      Just take off your coat and go to it;

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing

      That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.

(Music: Don't You Forget About Me, by Simple Minds)

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu.