I have been thinking especially about our senior class, all seniors. Those glorious last weeks of high school with countdowns, last games, matches, meets, concerts, performances, classes, trips down the hall. That “we’ve got the whole world in our hands” feeling. Caps, gowns, and commencement to top it off. Young people look forward to this time in life for years, and many of us with more years behind us still recall it fondly.
So much already suspended or canceled, and so much else up in the air. The Class of 2020 is being robbed. Left to wonder how these next weeks will play out, if graduation season will be something very different.
They are disappointed and saddened, and also resilient, keeping it in perspective, and making new kinds of memories. They will be the post-pandemic leaders we need, the ones who will most directly live out the lessons this time is teaching us. My hope is that someday they will sit down with their children and grandchildren and tell them what it was like to be a senior during the COVID-19 pandemic, how it was difficult but it brought us forward in new ways.
I was pregnant with my son Sam when 9/11 happened, forever altering our sense of security and normalcy. I wondered what kind of a world awaited him. Born into the post 9/11 world, he is now set to graduate in the midst of a global pandemic. This pandemic has certainly altered our current sense of normalcy. How will it direct and redirect the future that awaits Sam and all seniors?
As a mother, it is hard to consider the letdown, the losses, the sense of powerlessness that Sam and his classmates, that all in the Class of 2020 are experiencing. I ache and grieve for him, for you all. I also try to keep it in perspective. We are “at war” with a global virus, not a world or regional war like many graduates have faced in previous decades. There is hope and progress playing out daily. You have nearly 13 years of memories from your formal education. Relish in those and what you have already accomplished.
We don’t know when the commencements and parties will be, but we know we will be celebrating each and every one of you. We appreciate you Class of 2020!
I am wrapping up this post with a letter to seniors from someone who understands more than the rest of us what it feels like to be in your shoes. Chris Dier, 2020 Teacher of the Year in Louisiana, was a senior in high school when Hurricane Katrina hit.
This mom and school counselor thanks you for your words Chris. The last paragraph of the letter reads:
I am sad for you; truly, I am. I feel deeply for you; truly, I do. It makes my heart hurt as I write. But if there is any group that can plow through this in creative ways, it is your group. There is no pandemic strong enough to silence you or dent the passion of your generation. Keep your head up and keep fighting. Our country needs you because you provide hope for our future. This year may not be what you envisioned, but I’m eager to see what you do with it.
After all, it is still very much your year.