An Open Letter to the High School Class of 2020

My dearest seniors,

As your teacher my heart breaks with you with the official announcement that in-person learning has been cancelled for the rest of the school year. I think we all knew that this announcement was coming, and yet I know we were holding out hope that we could have at least met for classes even just one more time.

This is not how your teachers, or you, pictured your senior year going. No one could have predicted a global epidemic happening during the second semester. No one could have predicted your last year of school would be finished up on a computer instead of in the classroom. No one would have guessed that your senior season of your spring sport would be cancelled. No one could have guessed that you never would have performed with the choir or the band again. No, this is not the end we imagined for you.

For my students specifically – I want to have a chance to say goodbye. When we left each other it was with excitement for Spring Break. We were all ready to take a breath. We were disappointed at the lack of snow days. We were wanting a few carefree days. But now, I would give anything to have you back in my classroom. I would give anything to hound you to do your work or to “get off your phone” or to simply say hi and ask how your weekends were. I would love to see your faces in person, not just on Zoom.

Nothing I can say will change our new reality. Nothing I can do can make this virus go away. Nothing can take away the pain at missing the milestones you guys were so looking forward to.

What I can say is that you will never forget your senior year! You have the story of a lifetime to tell. I want to encourage all of you to write, blog, vlog, create videos about your experiences. You have a story – Tell it! What you are thinking and feeling and experiencing is something that is unique. Our lives are weird and strange, but your perspective is one that needs to be remembered always.

If you are disappointed about how things turned out, I want you to embrace that-learn from that. The most important thing you can take away from this are the lessons I wouldn’t have known how to teach you. Learn to embrace experiences. Learn that what you do matters (this includes your grades). Learn that we shouldn’t leave things unsaid. Learn to make friends with the new person in class-you might not get that opportunity again. Learn to embrace the experiences – within the classroom and outside of it. If you are going to college, take these lessons into those classrooms with you.

Most importantly, know that I love each and every one of you. I love you for your accomplishments and your hard work. I love you for the mistakes you made and what was learned. I love you for being uniquely you.

I hope you all can do great things with these strange and unique times. Be brave in the uncertainty.

Class of 2020, you will always hold a special place in my heart.

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