To my seniors and all the other members of the class of 2020,
I know many people say you probably won’t even be in touch with your Senior Prom date when you are older. But, they got to go to Senior Prom. Lots of adults talk about boring graduations. Boring is better than none. Some claim senior week is just an excuse to let you off easy at the end of the school year and you aren’t missing out on a whole lot with that week having been taken away. It’s easy for us that are older to say these things, we were able to have those events. On top of that, we have aged, our brains think differently than yours.
Underneath all the attempts at consoling you I think we realize how important these milestones are and how much they really do matter. I have seen countless examples of people trying to make some sort of event to give you the special recognition you deserve. Families taking pictures of their child in the park. Celebrity online graduation speeches. High school senior friends meeting up to take pictures with each other in small groups. Car parades around schools and neighborhoods. We tell you it isn’t such a big deal, but we try to make up for your loss as best as we can.
I have heard the hurt in your voices as you express remorse for missing out on awards and recognition you earned. Many of you took extra classes, or more difficult classes to receive an advanced diploma. The eagerness you have spoken with when talking about your dashed hopes of walking across the stage in your graduation gown is impossible not to notice. Your awards will now be handed to you as you drive through the empty high school parking lot. Given to you will be a bag with your award(s) and diploma. Things that your school has been preaching about the importance of since you were registering as an 8th grader.
The youthful freedom of the last two months of high school is one of the aspects I am most sad about you missing out on. The time in life when your senior events are all that matter. As an adult one knows those events don’t matter in the long run, but that is the beauty that you are missing out on. Those last few weeks of high school are one of the very few times in life when one gets to put his/her life in neutral and coast, only having to worry about enjoying the final high school experiences.
As I have talked to you about missing out on your senior milestones I have been impressed with how you have handled this situation. You are a lot more emotionally mature than I am. I don’t know if you are still hiding your true emotions, if you have already dealt with them, or if you can just plain handle this crushing disappointment better than any other group of people I know. I would have been devastated.
Class of 2020 you are better than me. Congrats to that! Take that with you for the rest of your crazy life journey. You have already dealt with a huge loss. You have already had to deal with a major change of plans. These things will happen so often in life you will forget all of the instances. You got that lesson earlier than most and you will be better equipped to deal with future unforeseen events. One of the hardest things in life, even in middle adulthood, is to deal with not receiving something you earned and something you achieved. It will happen again. It will happen perhaps to something more important than the last two months of your senior year. However, I’m sorry that you missed out on a milestone that marks your passage from youth to young adulthood. There isn’t another milestone you will get like that and you missed it. It will make you stronger because you dealt with it, or maybe didn’t deal with it, but you lived through it and in the future the next challenge won’t seem as difficult.
I wish you well Class of 2020. I know you will do great. You have already dealt with some tough challenges. It was a pleasure being your teacher. Now go out and show that the Corona Virus lock down of 2020 only made you a stronger and more determined person.
P.S. I also wanted to include some things from three of my seniors. First is the speech one of my flag football seniors, Veah Angeles, was supposed to be making on Friday at my school’s graduation as valedictorian. The second two are videos made by my students, Alexis Russell and Andrew Kim. For an assignment I asked my students to show me how they were dealing with the lock down. The two videos are their submissions.
Speech from Veah Angeles:
Good afternoon and welcome Shadow Ridge Staff, family, friends, random people who got invited and showed up, thank you so much for coming, but most importantly, good afternoon on this very accomplished day to the class of 2020
Looking back on my four years of attending Shadow Ridge, I’ve seen a lot
Inappropriate spray paint on the school building
Senior pranks involving a lot of string
Couples kissing and hugging each other right before the bell rings
But with that I’ve also seen
Ecstatic crowds at football games
Entertainment at its finest during school assemblies
a collection of faculty members and teachers that encourage us to thrive everyday
And a community of school spirit like no other
Today you look around and see 741 of your peers getting ready to get handed their diploma and get out of here.
And I'm no fortune teller, and I certainly don't have visions like Raven Simone, but I’m sure of the things I see in front of me right now.
Today I see 741 of my peers and myself getting ready for another rough and challenging chapter of our lives.
And that's a good thing because if we didn't have challenges and hard times like I know we've had in high school I wouldn’t be able to stand here before you today and say that I see 741 of my peers with great potential and success ahead of them no matter what they do.
Congratulations to us, and thank you all again.
Alexis Russell's video:
Andrew Kim's video: