It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This wasn’t supposed to be your Senior year. My heart breaks for every single one of you. As you worked through your school career, you had a vision of what it was “supposed” to look like. You had a goal in sight, things to look forward to and now here you are, your Senior year, and yet it looks nothing like it was supposed to. Nothing like you had imagined. It looks nothing like we had imagined either, but for some reason, here we are.
The thing is, you entered this world in the shadows of one of the worst terrorist attacks our country had ever seen. You were brought into a world that had been changed overnight. Quite literally in the blink of an eye. Here we were on one side, grieving a life we once knew and on the other, welcoming a new generation that knew nothing different. Your innocent little lives had just begun, and here we, your family, your community, were trying to understand what had happened and how we were going to move forward. We were trying to heal, but you sweet, pure little children, you were growing, watching us, learning. You had no choice but to start this life resilient, strong and brave. You didn’t know it, but from birth your foundation was being built for something so much bigger than you. In actuality, it was so much bigger than all of us.
Now here we sit, as we approach what should be the closing of your high school career, and our country is once again grieving together as we experience a pandemic like nothing any of us have ever seen before. Another place of unexplainable fears, loss of control and uncertainty, that we could have never imagined. Here you find yourself with another opportunity to continue to make that foundation you stand on even stronger than the one before.
I found this quote recently that made me think of you.
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is strange with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many failure comes about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow-
You may succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out-
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell just how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit-
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
For all the sad words of tongue or pen
The saddest are these: “It might have been!”
You see, I find it fitting that you are the class of 2020. A class that represents clarity, or sharpness of vision. That’s you. A class that was built on a foundation made to move mountains. A class that knew from day one, what the definition of community was. A class that believes from the core of their being that when you get knocked down, because you WILL get knocked down, that you must dust yourself off, lean into your community and rise back up.
You, Class of 2020, you are the definition of hope. You are the definition of strength. You are the definition of determination, grit and bravery. Yes, this is hard. Yes, this is not how we all thought it was “supposed” to be, but maybe there’s a different plan for you, Class of 2020. Maybe you, yes you, are supposed to teach us the lessons now.
You’ve got this. You are so much stronger because of this. We believe in you. Now lead the way because we need you.