By Brooke Greene / Staff Writer

The students of Hutchinson Community College will gather next Friday, on April 30, to celebrate graduates as they walk the stage at the Sports Arena.

It has been a long and challenging experience for all of those associated with HutchCC, as the world has been fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, but as the days tick down, it is clear that the fight was worth it.

While many are proud of the graduates, HutchCC President, Carter File, expressed his awe in the achievements and demonstrations of excellence that students have displayed these past two years.

“There was no playbook for this,” File said. “What we did was operate on the best information we had and did what the experts said to do. I am not surprised that we are here, and I was certainly hopeful that we would get here. The students have to take some credit for this as well. They were very helpful and interested in getting us to this point.”

This school year may have felt longer than others, as there was no spring break, in attempt to help limit the spread of the disease. While these efforts may have helped, students grew awfully tired and burnt out, and are now reaching for the finish line.

It was clear that removing the spring break would help increase our chances of graduating face to face, yet it took its toll on the students, instructors and staff. Faces on campus are long and exhausted, but excited for the sweet reward soon to come.

“We decided not to have a spring break this year in August or September, and at the time, cases were on the rise and everything was spiking. There was conventional wisdom that it was better to keep people together that were already together. So we decided to eliminate spring break and shorten the semester. And while we didn’t have a spring break, we’re done in a week,” File said.

The idea of what’s to come may make students, families, instructors and staff uneasy, and while it is hard to predict the future, some plans have been set for the school year of 2021-2022.

This last year has been unlike anything ever seen before as everyone frantically tried to figure out the best solution for HutchCC. Soon, the mask mandate on campus could be lifted, as Hutchinson is and has been in the green zone for Coronavirus safety and cases.

If this follows through the summer, and as more and more people get vaccinated, File said that next year will be “a very normal school year.”

It might be crazy to hear that word again in a genuine sense – normal.

“This is all based on what I know today, but the virus is starting to flatten out. Vaccinations are continuing to increase. Unless state-mandated vaccines and masks will not be made mandatory for students to acquire, I strongly encourage it, especially in the students in the dorms,” File said. “People tend to have a herd mentality. If enough of us get vaccinated we will accomplish that mentality.”

File said he applauds the students for their hard work this year, as they did the things they were asked to do and participated as responsible citizens in the efforts to get this pandemic under wraps. With the end in sight, File said he encourages students to finish strong and come back stronger next year.

With a longer summer break ahead, a well-deserved break you could say, is in need for everyone to recover from such a hectic year.

Even File has plans to get away, as he said he plans on traveling and visiting his children this summer, with great excitement as he is soon to be a grandpa.

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