Dear High School Senior, …

Good morning.

Let’s state the obvious. This is not how it should have happened. A little over two months left in your senior year of high school and a few things were supposed to occur before graduation – maybe prom, some sports, definitely hanging out with friends.

And now you have virtual classes amidst a pandemic with a “stay at home” order. Furthermore, the State Board of Education voted last Friday to put into place a plan that almost assuredly “ended” elements of schooling on an academic scale for seniors. The inquiries I received just from students over the weekend alone told me that news has already spread.

Yes, this is a bad set of circumstances on many levels.

So, what are you going to do about it? How do you want to remember in the future how you handled this time of adversity? Most assuredly, many of you answered a response on a college application asking you to describe how you handled adversity or a big unforeseen challenge.

I ask because I am a teacher of seniors, and there is a high school senior living under the roof of my home.

My grandmother, who is still alive and remains wickedly sharp, lived through the Great Depression. My grandfathers were overseas during WWII. My mother lived during a war that claimed the lives of many of her childhood friends. I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday.

All different, yet all life defining. So, the question remains – what are you going to do about it?

And I am not talking about academics necessarily (although that could be part of it –  making sure that finish your secondary school education with as much energy and passion as possible).

This could be the time where you can work on so many things that no test would ever be able to measure, but the rest of your life could reap benefits from.

Be a bigger part of your family. Help your parents with things around the house. Pursue a curiosity. Reach out to loved ones. Have meaningful conversations. Write letters. Read great books. Help your younger siblings. Do outside yard work for older people (socially distanced of course). Look into possible college majors. Learn or relearn a musical instrument. Do the house work. Learn to cook or get better at it. Call people instead of text. Exercise your mind and body.

Learn what you have taken for granted and become more grateful for those very things. Be there for people who really need your help and support. Be the person today that you reflect upon later and can honestly say that you did not let this current situation keep you from growing as a person.

When young adults come back to see me during college or contact me after they have started a career, the last thing I ask them is what their scores were in school. I want to know if they are becoming the people that they are proud to be.

And I want them to know that I still care.

The Art Of Letter-Writing Isn't Lost On These Scribblers : NPR

Be the same great person you have always been.

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