To each and every one of you, I would like to say “I’m Sorry.” I’m sorry your lives have been disrupted, schedules have been changed, that you no longer are able to see your friends, teachers, or people who you have spent 5,000+ hours with. I’m sorry that many hard-working seniors will not get to participate in a commencement activity, complete a senior athletic season, take that senior trip, perform in a final concert, play, or choral event, and so many more activities. You have lost the last chapter of your high school career.
While we are all in this together we acknowledge that this is a time like no other, and that you are experiencing a unique loss. We know that for some of you, school is your safe space. It is a place where you receive positive attention for excelling academically, physically, or even artistically. We also know in an online platform, this isn’t transferred the same. You may not have a distraction or responsibility-free learning space where you live, or even the ability to stay in contact with your teachers or peers. Ironically, I’m sure each and every one of you have once dreamed of the day when school would be closed or that you would be done. Obviously, none of us could have predicted it would look like this. We can all sit back and wish that we had one more chance– but we don’t. We only have the opportunity to appreciate the 5,000+ hours, memories, and experiences. Stay connected with your community. Send thank you letters to your school, thank your guidance counselors or your favorite teachers, reach out to them to ask how they are, and let them know how you’re doing. Then make your next moves. Get excited for where you will be going in the Fall. Get connected with your new community. Meet the people that will be your friends, or the professors you will be spending your time with. Do not dread what’s next or how it may look different, look forward to it.
Together, we are all experiencing these days that will be written in our history books. But know that in the future, this small aspect of your academic journey will be just one part of your larger story. You will get to tell the younger generations how you experienced and overcame these difficult times. This will be your “I had to walk to and from school during blizzards, and it was uphill both ways,” kind of story. You had to miss your senior prom, figure out how to do school online, decide if your classes should be pass-fail, choose a college without physically visiting a campus, and spend way too many hours at home with your family. I think you have the ‘Uphill both ways’ story easily beat.
Until you get to share (and maybe figure out) how you overcame this challenge, get ready for your next chapter. Know this will all end and bring new beginnings. Remember to take a deep breath, cry it out, laugh it out, and do whatever you gotta do. We are all so sorry, but we will get past this.
We congratulate and recognize you Class of 2020, it was a bit of a bumpy ride but YOU DID IT!