To my kids in the Class of 2020

Yes, you are MY kids. Once you are in my classroom, you’re my kid. FOR-EV-ER (I hope you just said that in the voice of the police chief from The Sandlot).

When a teacher looks back on former classes, there are some classes that simply outshine others. The relationships were tighter. The memories are warmer. The students have come back to visit over the years. Your class is one of those classes for me. So when I say I feel bad for the seniors in the midst of losing the spring of their senior year, I mean it like I would mean it for my own flesh-and-blood offspring.

This last weekend, I bumped (figuratively-we were adequately social distanced) into the mother of one of those seniors. She told me how devastated her daughter was. Could I reach out? If you aren’t a teacher, you don’t understand the significance of a parent asking you to reach out to a student you had seven years ago. Like I said, it was a special class. I did reach out, but then I thought, “Why not reach out to all of them?”

So here we are. I truly hate that you are missing out on all of the spring events of your senior year. I’m not going to list them. This isn’t about that. I just want you to know I hate it with you.

Instead, I want to beg you to excel during this time. I want you to embrace this opportunity to grow rather than endure this spring. Take advantage of this disguised blessing to spend time with your family. Many of you are going to leave very soon. You’ll be surprised how little time there will be with them as the next stage of your life begins. Also, remember that all of these events you are missing, they’re missing them too.

That year–We had the wall open all the time. The whole team worked together on so many different projects. Do you remember the owl pellets? You loved those. You were talented. Watching you do our Storyworks plays, it was easy to see that some of you were going to be great on the stage in high school.

You were so close to each other and developed or strengthened friendships that are still going today.

Another thing that I love about this class is how many of you come back to visit. Sometimes you come alone. Sometimes in pairs. Sometimes, you come back in packs. I love it. One of you brought me a pizza after school on my birthday and we sat and talked and ate. Special.

One of my fondest memories, and quite honestly, it makes my eyes water whenever I hear the song, happened after you were out of my class. I was blessed to be your 6th grade Outdoor Ed coordinator (how do you think you got those cool cabin assignments with all of your friends). On the night of the DJ/dance thing in the gym, the girls and boys were in there at different times. The girls were having a ton of fun with it. Lots of singing, dancing, laughing. Then, “Girl on Fire” was played. There’s a moment where the music pauses and then over 100 girls belted with Alicia Keys, “THIS GIRL IS ON FIRE!” It was one of those moments when time stands still, the goosebumps raise on your arms, and you get to look around and appreciate life. You were, and are, a powerful group of girls. You were great friends. You had each other’s backs.

I also have a memory that brings about mixed emotions for me. One of our students suffered a devastating loss over Christmas break that year. You took him under your wings. You lifted him up. You helped get him through that time. When his birthday came around, you stepped up and we had that surprise party for him. You were so selfless and empathetic.

Those of you who know me, or have ever sat with me on the last day of school while we read Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, realize that by this time, I’m having an issue with seeing my computer screen. So, I’ll wrap this up.

You showed me seven years ago, and every year since, that you were built for the challenge of the spring of your senior year. You are powerful. You are resilient. You will lift each other up. You will come out of the other side of this, together.