Houlton senior Leighanna Martin pops out of the sunroof of her vehicle as she waits for the start of Houlton's graduation ceremony June 4 at the Houlton International Airport. Credit: Staff Photo/Joseph Cyr | Houlton Pioneer Times

Members of the Class of 2020 have made it through an unusual — and sometimes stressful — end of their time in high school and college.

To slow the spread of coronavirus, classes were quickly transitioned online in March. Traditions — such as sports seasons, proms, even graduations — were canceled or held in new, socially distant formats. For college seniors, offers of jobs and internships may have evaporated.

The Class of 2020 has our respect and sympathy. You’ve adapted to new ways of learning and graciously given up cherished rites of passage.

To recognize your accomplishments and your transitions to new, uncertain chapters of life, here are some words of wisdom and encouragement from people who said it better than we can.

“I know this was not the senior year you dreamed of throughout your high school career. … But the Class of 2020 will always remember this experience, a bond that will be shared with graduates around the globe,” Gov. Janet Mills wrote in a letter to the Class of 2020. “The skills, friendships, and memories of the last four years will give you courage and confidence as you further your education, embark on a new career, travel, seek new experiences, and raise a family.”

“My own life has been anything but a straight line,” she added. “I have taken some interesting turns and risks and encountered unplanned detours and distractions. But those curves and detours made my life all the richer. Each new direction brought anxiety and self-doubt, the inevitable companions of change, but each experience has contributed to who I am and has made me a better person.”

Houlton High School Principal Tim Tweedie reached out to more than 100 well-known people asking if they’d send video greetings to the school’s 88 graduates. He received 23 responses, including from Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, tennis star Billie Jean King and Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. The result is an uplifting, humorous and inspiring video.

“I know you’re not going to be able to hold your typical Houlton High School gymnasium, sweaty, June pomp and circumstance, in-person graduation ceremony, like everybody else since the beginning of time, but don’t let that reality diminish the fact that you have done something really amazing, really incredible, and really long-lasting for your lives,” said Lewis Cleale, a Houlton High alum who is appearing in “Book of Mormon” on Broadway.

Many in the video spoke of what this spring’s graduates had given up, but encouraged them to stay focused and positive.

“Enjoy this time as much as you can and remember going forward, always chase your dreams. Don’t let any of them go past,” said Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy.

“Please hang in there,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, often the public face of the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic. “We need you to be smart, strong and resilient. With displicine and empathy, we will all get through this together.”

In an online celebration he produced and organized last month, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James reminded graduates of their responsibility to serve their communities.

“Every teacher, every coach, and every pastor. They, along with your friends and family, got you to this moment. And now, it is time to go to a new place. It is time to chase every dream. Accept every challenge. Strive for greatness. Honor every promise. And recommit to your community,” he said before the country erupted in protests over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.

“Building your community is how you change the world,” he said. “Unfortunately, the system does not solve the real problem — education, violence, racism. They must be solved in the street.”

Like generations before them, the Class of 2020 heads into a world full of challenges, opportunities, and the promise of building a better future. There is much hard work to be done. But now is a time of celebration. Congratulations!