Persevering During the Pandemic Book Cover

Persevering During the Pandemic, Co-Edited by Michelle Napierski-Prancl, Includes Her Chapter About Parents of the High School Class of 2020

Persevering During the Pandemic: Stories of Resilience,Creativity and Connection, co-edited by Russell Sage College Sociology Professor Michelle Napierski-Prancl, Ph.D., with Deborah A. Macey of the University of Portland and David Staton of the University of Northern Colorado was published in August by Lexington Books.

The book highlights how people found creative ways to stay connected during COVID-19 related shutdowns of 2020.

Persevering During the Pandemic includes a chapter by Professor Napierski-Prancl titled  “The Class of 2020: Parents’ Perspectives of the Pomp and Terrible Circumstance,” focused on parents of high school seniors in the Class of 2020, and their experiences as the pandemic closed schools and altered rituals like prom and graduation.

Napierski-Prancl interviewed 22 individual parents from 19 states and Puerto Rico. They included parents of students from a large Texas high school, a charter school in Minnesota, a magnet school in Delaware and a homeschool in Maine.

She emphasized that the parents she spoke with understood the severity of the pandemic and the necessity of public health measures, but argues that underneath the trauma of sickness, death and uncertainty, “there was yet another layer of loss that is important to recognize.” 

Parents spoke of concerns for their children’s mental health; of feeling powerless to help; and of their own sense of loss around not being able to publicly celebrate their children’s achievements. 

“When communities came together, it made a difference,” continued Napierski-Prancl, mentioning school districts that organized parades or congratulatory signs in yards or that preserved traditions as best they could. 

Napierski-Prancl said her conversations highlight the importance of rituals, collective effervescence, cohort experiences and milestones that mark a threshold from one stage of life to the next. 

Professor Napierski-Prancl also serves as faculty director of The Women’s Institute at Russell Sage College and is the author of Mothers Work Mothers Work: Confronting the Mommy Wars, Raising Children, and Working for Social Change, published in 2019.

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