To the 8th graders.. Going to high school

The High schoolers graduating

The college graduates…. Of 2020

As I’ve been observing these last few months I’ve noticed that many people have been focused on the loss of the end of the year celebrations.. Milestones. Rituals. Ceremonies… I can feel the loss of much more than these events in the people’s dismay as well as their rallies to create unconventional versions of these events. I can feel and see people wanting to make sure their values are being expressed.

People love their family, their children, their promoters, their graduates. They want them to know it. They want them to feel special. They want them to feel accomplished. These feelings are deep in many cases, and for others they lend to a chance to have a party so people can enjoy life and each other. 

After working in schools for the last four decades I know that the end and beginning of life phases, while celebrated and potentially fun, can also be times of great stress and uncertainty in good times. In coronatimes? Well I imagine that’s amplified.

One thing about staying in educational organizations over decades is the opportunity to develop a long term perspective. For me, I see the constants and the similarities, and also the evolution of students, families, and learners over time. Students have so much information access these days, so many valuable skills and practices, they care so much and easily and creatively find ways to express their care. 2020 students at every level, are the best our society has ever produced ( sorry- “greatest generation”).

My message to all the 8th graders and school graduates out there is to believe in yourself, your family, and your community and move through the phases of survival, resilience and on to thriving. In these times, only a few are thriving, but each of us can see things in ourselves that are coming to the forefront. We hope these aspects of character, courage, and clarity are focused on helping yourself feel ok, helping yourself get on a learning and making path, helping yourself help your family and community and ultimately to find ways to build strength and joy for the gift of living life.

Your Rio friends and teachers and support staff believe in you, we miss seeing you in the normal ways, but we know you are ready for the next thing, the next stage, the next school, in whatever form it takes. We celebrate your learning and past accomplishments and we equally acknowledge the struggles and challenges you go through to get to this point in your life. 

Some things never change. Working hard, caring for people, dreaming of things you’d like to do and taking actions in that direction – these remain constants. We ask that you be mindful of the new safety precautions during these pandemic times so that you can stay well and you can keep others well. We will see you soon in person, until then, the art of being your most full self online is the next great challenge for the students and graduates of 2020 and you have a long lead in this race already.  


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