Friednash: The future is uncertain for graduating seniors, but there is hope — them

This first episode of “Sesame Street — sponsored by the letters W, S and E and the numbers 2 and 3 — aired in 1969.

Like today, those were turbulent times.

The country was rocked by the Vietnam War and shaken from the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy the year before.

Like many of you, I grew up with Sesame Street and watched it religiously. Through the years, its programming captured the challenges of the day and talked honestly about difficult subjects.

To help kids after 9/11, the first educational show on television, depicted a kitchen fire breaking out in Hooper’s Store. Elmo, the youngest character of the show was left traumatized by the fire, and a friendly FDNY employee named Bill, reassured Elmo that no matter how scary things might look, firefighters are there to help.

And in the year of the meme, there is one that has captured my attention. It is an image of Ernie from Sesame Street, looking downwards, with his hand over his face and the caption, “The Year 2020…brought to you by the letters W, T and F.”

That’s exactly how it must feel to the graduating class of 2020.

Their rite of passage is unlike any other in recent modern history.

They have been stripped of all of the traditional pomp because of the COVID-19 circumstances. No high school prom, signing yearbooks, graduation precession and while every day is senior ditch day, students can’t even celebrate that together.