Ketchikan has come a long way in the past year.

For decades the First City could set its calendar by graduation ceremonies, sports seasons, summer celebrations and, of course, the cruise ships’ arrival.

It hasn’t always been the case. Years ago these didn’t happen and weren’t even a bright idea yet or they occurred in much muted style.

Once on the calendar, they changed over time. Time has changed them again.

They will never be exactly the same, but, from our view, they will be better because now it’s even more apparent how fortunate the community is to even have these. Our sense of appreciation is greater.

The University of Alaska Southeast Ketchikan participated in a virtual graduation ceremony at the end of April. All in all, more than 400 students of higher learning received a degree and recognition for their academic achievements. Not many grads through the decades can say they had a virtual ceremony.

Ketchikan School District will announce graduation ceremony information this week for both high schools — Kayhi and Revilla. The date on the calendar for Kayhi is Sunday, and June 2 for Revilla, but, in a time when who knows what will happen next, which really is how it has always been, it’s not a done deal yet. Until last year, a typical ceremony came around year after year, lulling us into the belief that it would always be the same.

But, the seniors will graduate after a school year of mostly in-class learning. The year might have been different and the graduation ceremony might be, too, but it’s the fact that the students did the work and advanced despite disruption that makes them stand out. What a life lesson that is. Life always tosses in surprises, and they handled the one on everyone’s mind this past year.

The spring sports season — and even the typical fall wrestling season rescheduled for the spring — came about. Maybe it was not everything hoped for, but athletes competed. And for athletes and other entrants in activities, life will always provide competition. They will win some, but from the losses they will learn much.

The Greater Ketchikan Chamber of Commerce is beginning preparations for the annual Fourth of July Parade. That will be welcomed back, after a year hiatus, like a warm blanket on a blustery day without electricity in Ketchikan.

Also, the cruise ships will begin to return in August and September. Imagine the greeting they will receive. As passengers and crew will have attested to being vaccinated, they, like Ketchikan, will begin to depend less on masks, but still employ common sense.

Ketchikan comes to this point because, despite a bumpy experience of late with a higher number than usual outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, overall it has employed prudence.

Ketchikan — like other places — will come out of the COVID-19 period. We can only imagine what comes next. But, we are certain that the past year has prepared us to deal with and even overcome any number of challenges, and given us a greater sense of appreciation for the easier days as they come and go.