Class of 2020: A look back at the events that Shaped the Journey

Posted by Jim McCall on

(Written and compiled by my wife, Danna, and daughter, Paige)

This is the 9th installment of our annual trip down memory lane for high school seniors and their parents who can’t believe 18 years went so quickly

It’s also the the most emotional for me to write, as my youngest of four children prepares to fly the coop. Then throw in the unfair fact that a pandemic robbed my child and her fellow graduates of all the momentous ‘lasts’ of high school… and, well, you get my point.

This year, it’s not enough to just look back and examine all the things that shaped these school years. It’s not.


Class of 2020, I’m sorry there was no prom, no last blast, no in-person graduation, no walking the halls with friends those last few days. It wasn’t fair.

I wish you the very best on your next steps, and hope these losses do not define the importance of all that you’ve accomplished.

Please know how proud your parents and families are. You’ve showed more resilience than any graduating classes before you. These last three months may not be what you’d imagined, but I hope they don’t define your accomplishments and plans for the future.

Remember: You are the future. You are its strength. You are its hope. You are the fighters this world needs.

Now, enough with the emotional ‘mom babble.’ Let’s take that yearly journey and look back at some of the events that shaped the world and your school years.

Class of 2020 Graduates were:

Born When

  • Two planes hit the Twin Towers on September 11th
  • The first iPod was released
  • Serena Williams beat her sister Venus to win her first Wimbledon singles title

Learning to Walk and Talk When

  • The Human Genome Project was completed
  • The U.S. invaded Iraq
  • The Lizzie McGuire Movie was released
  • U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein
  • Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dorm
  • “Friends” aired its series finale

Potty Training When

  • Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans
  • A 9.3 magnitude earthquake creates a tsunami, causing devastation in Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Maldives and edges of the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people
  • The Boston Red Sox win the World Series for the first time in 86 years
  • YouTube launched

In Preschool When

  • The 49ers faced off against the Cardinals in the first regular season NFL game to take place outside the U.S., in Mexico City
  • Rosa Parks passed away at age 92
  • Pluto was downgraded to “dwarf planet” status
  • Steve Irwin died after being pierced in the chest by a stingray
  • “Borat” premiered
  • Saddam Hussein was executed
  • Bird flu spread worldwide
  • The Virginia Tech shooter killed more than 30 people

In Kindergarten When

  • Amanda Knox’s name started dominating the news
  • Keeping Up With The Kardashians premiered
  • The Marvel Cinematic Universe released its first film, Iron Man
  • Heath Ledger died

In 1st Grade When

  • The U.S. stock market crashed
  • President Obama was elected
  • Swine flu hit America
  • The first “Twilight” movie premiered
  • Michael Jackson died

In 2nd Grade When

  • Avatar became the highest-grossing film of all time
  • A deadly earthquake hit Haiti, destroying the majority of Port-au-Prince, killing 160,000 people
  • The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded causing a massive environmental disaster
  • The repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” was signed into law
  • Toy Story 3 premiered

In 3rd Grade

  • The Copiapó mining accident left 33 miners trapped underground for a record 69 days before all were finally rescued
  • Prince William and Kate Middleton got engaged
  • Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces
  • The first episode of “Game of Throne” aired on HBO
  • Instagram was launched
  • Adele released “Rolling in the Deep”

In 4th Grade When

  • One Direction released their debut album
  • “One Life to Live” and “All My Children” ended after 40+ years on air
  • World population reached 7 billion
  • Snapchat was launched
  • The first “Hunger Games” movie premiered

In 5th Grade When

  • Despite predictions from the Mayan Calendar, the world didn’t end
  • Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast
  • A school shooter killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School
  • President Obama was re-elected over challenger Mitt Romney
  • Bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon
  • Pope Francis was elected

In 6th Grade When

  • “Frozen” was released
  • Jay Leno left the Tonight Show
  • Malaysian Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance prompted the most expensive search effort in history

In 7th Grade When

  • Zayn left One Direction
  • Gay marriage became legal in all 50 states
  • Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize
  • Taylor Swift officially left country music for pop
  • Sony was hacked
  • ISIS became enemy #1
  • Bill Cosby’s history of sexual assault allegations came to light

In 8th Grade When

  • Queen Elizabeth II officially became Great Britain’s longest-reigning monarch
  • Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Cuba since 1928
  • The U.K. voted in favor of Brexit
  • Stephen Colbert became host of “The Late Show”
  • Beyonce released “Lemonade”

In 9th Grade When

  • Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the national anthem
  • Donald Trump was elected president
  • Millions marched worldwide in the Women’s March
  • The Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years
  • Harry Style’s released his debut solo album
  • “Wonder Woman”, the first female-directed superhero movie, premiered
  • Mother and daughter Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds died within one day of each other
  • Ariana Grande hosts a benefit concert, One Love Manchester, in response to the bombing at her Manchester concert

In 10th Grade When

  • Twitter doubled its character limit
  • The New York Times published an investigation of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault/harassment
  • The internet exploded with #MeToo stories
  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle got married
  • Tens of thousands worldwide participated in “March for Our Lives” and nationwide school walkouts to demand stricter gun control measures
  • Beyonce became the first black woman to headline Coachella
  • Childish Gambino released his widely acclaimed video for “This is America”

In 11th Grade When

  • Bill Cosby was jailed for sexual assault
  • “Veep” and “Game of Thrones” aired their final episodes on HBO
  • The Woolsey Wildfire destroyed hundreds of Malibu homes
  • Ariana Grande released her popular music video “Thank U Next”
  • The Oscars aired without a host
  • Luke Perry died of a stroke
  • The first ever photo of a black hole was released
  • Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral caught fire, destroying the roof and its famous spire

In 12th Grade When

  • “Parasite” became the first non-English language film to take home Best Picture at the Oscars
  • Donald Trump became the third U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives
  • Prince Harry and Meghan Markle stepped down from their royal duties
  • Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi died in a helicopter crash
  • The UK left the EU
  • Harvey Weinstein went to jail
  • The 2020 Summer Olympics got postponed due to coronavirus
  • SpaceX launched successfully, sending American astronauts to the International Space Station
  • The global coronavirus pandemic took over the news cycle, infecting more than 6 million people and killing 370,000 (and still counting)
  • Social distancing became the new norm, businesses closed, stay-at-home orders were issued, and schools worldwide closed or moved to online learning, prompting an early end to high school for our graduating class

Through all of this, and no matter what, you did it.  Congratulations, Class of 2020!

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