Once upon a time, May was a month long-awaited by high-school seniors. It was a time for senior pictures, glamor-filled proms, massive graduation ceremonies, family celebrations of various sizes, and lots of pictures, so many the seniors got tired of being photographed. For seniors this year, May 2020 has already been different in too many ways, all of them unexpected, most of them unwelcome. One of them: virtual graduation ceremonies to be watched from afar. Earlier this week, Kurt and I photographed Amelia Loeffler who is working on her graduation speech. Her deadline is Sunday. This is what Amelia shared with us: “As Co-President of my senior class at Lafayette High School, I have the honor of giving a speech at our graduation ceremony, addressing my peers as we reflect on the past four years and look to the future. But this year, due to coronavirus, graduation will look different. The class of 2020 will be graduating virtually, without an in-person ceremony, and I’m having a hard time finding the right words for the occasion. Traditionally, graduation is important for students in many ways: it marks the end of a long chapter in our lives and is a time for classmates to celebrate each other as they turn the page and venture into adulthood. Walking across the stage and getting a diploma is, in a way, both closure and commencement. Without this, many students feel disheartened and disappointed. Although not being able to have a traditional graduation may seem trivial in comparison to other impacts of the coronavirus, it’s still a significant loss for students who have spent nearly 13 years working towards a diploma. An online graduation lacks the sense of community and togetherness that traditional graduation is all about. Seeing some classmates and teachers for the last time via television screen is a bit melancholy, and it’s sad to not participate in decade-old traditions. But, I have seen the amazing things my peers have done throughout their high school careers. I have seen my school come together to support each other in times of hardship: our school community has been there for each other through the losses of classmates, friends have supported each other through family emergencies, teachers have helped students overcome barriers and plan their futures in college or following career paths. I have seen our school community grow through adversity and become better for it. I have seen my classmates take on challenge after challenge, using these obstacles as opportunities to learn and to grow. It is for these reasons that I know the class of 2020 will take this obstacle in stride, just as we have every challenge before. This was not the senior year we expected, nor the graduation we had hoped for, but in the end, it isn’t the graduation that matters. It’s the friendships we made, the lessons we learned, and the community we built over the last four years. I know that my peers will make the best of the hand we’ve been dealt and we will all come out of this pandemic better people for it.” #TogetherKY #TeamKentucky #HealthyatHome

Lexington in the Time of COVID-19 is an artwork about people practicing social distancing at a time of a deadly virus. And also offering kindness.

Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova capture photographs at the periphery of American culture, where drag queens, discarded couches, and abandoned motel signs exist.