Though there are no shortage of uncertainties and disappointments in the world, our staff is invested in the happiness and well-being of the whole school community and have gathered some personal sentiments for their outgoing students in this challenging time.
Dear New School High Class of 2020,
This is YOUR year: the culmination of years, months, weeks, hours, minutes, and seconds, which will lead to up to your 2020 high school graduation!
While the culmination of your school years were measured in time, they were also reflective of your discipline, your hard work, your perseverance, your attitude, your knowledge, your strength, and your courage.
Your humanness is reflective of your strengths and weaknesses, your good days and bad days, your smiles and tears, your happiness and sadness, your confidence and insecurities, your friendships and loneliness, your gains and losses.
As human beings, we need to support one another through all the good and bad. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Lend a hand. Take a hand.
Yes, this is your year — your graduation year. You’ve accomplished so much. You deserve a huge ray of sunshine for all your efforts. Your family, friends, and teachers are proud of your accomplishments and respect the person you’ve grown to be.
2020, your high school graduation year, will never be forgotten! Take all the lessons, knowledge, and wisdom you’ve gained, and apply it to OUR today and OUR tomorrow.
Special Education Teacher
New School High
Dear Class of 2020,
I hope this finds you and your family well. I have been thinking of you often during this time. I know this is a time in your life of uncertainty and this has caused some fear and anxiety, but you will rise above this adversity. My hope for all of you is that you find meaning, gratitude, and appreciation for family, friends, and others in your life.
Your senior year may not be what you expected. You have worked so hard throughout these past 13 years of school and you deserve to have these last few months with your friends to celebrate this special milestone in your life. These last two months of the year were meant to celebrate all your hard work and they were unfortunately taken from you.
As the mother of a senior student, I know first-hand how this feels and what you and your families are experiencing. My heart aches for those who are experiencing this loss of time and memories. The trauma is justified and I am here to listen whenever needed. The class of 2020 is resilient, and given my interactions with you, I know this will not get the best of you.
You are a strong class with loads of determination and I am looking forward to celebrating your incredible milestones.
New School High
I never imagined we would be sent home for so long and never in my life have we experience a health crisis at this magnitude. It has been difficult for everyone trying to work from our homes but, I have to say you are doing well. There have been many questions regarding seniors and graduation. We are not certain what will happen, but please know this we miss all of you!! It has been difficult, and I even miss Independent Study and Advisory with you!
I wanted to share my experience as a senior in high school, I graduated, but we did not have a ceremony due to a severe thunderstorm and our graduation was outside. We started the commencement exercises and I played my clarinet in the band. After walking out to the football field, we listened to the Mayor and the Superintendent when it started storming and we made a wild dash inside of the school. The decision was made for us and we were told we graduated, here is your diploma and what is your class leaving us? (We left a large rock for future graduates to sign). We were so disappointed and felt cheated, thirteen years of going to school and no ceremony. Looking back, I realized I had a good time in school with band, theatre and all my friends. I told all my teachers thank you and kept in touch with them and my friends. It has been along time since I graduated and the most important thing, I learned is having a good education means more than a graduation ceremony.
Special Education Teacher
New School High
I have been thinking a lot about you. I have been feeling a lot of pain for you. However, I have also been feeling a lot of pride surrounding you.
The last time we saw each other–many weeks ago–I watched all of you pause your worries for a moment to spend some time with your friends–laughing, playing volleyball, and even dancing a bit (yes, I saw YOU), but that will not be my “forever” memory of you. I see you. I see you working hard learning to adjust to online learning to prove to yourself and others you are ready. I see you making contact with us teachers about the trials and tribulation you are having trying to find a new routine and gain a sense of normalcy. I see you managing your day-to-day life despite all the uncertainties in the state of the world right now.
I see you. And I am proud of you.
I am proud of your grit, resilience, and dedication.
I am proud of the way you are coping with this broken picture of your senior year.
I am proud to be your teacher.
Whether or not we get to see each other again this year, in person or virtually, I just want you to know, my ”forever” memory of the class of 2020 will be associated with the feeling of pride and privilege–the privilege to have gotten to work with such caring, independent, and compassionate “mini-adult-humans.”
Stay healthy. Stay strong. Stay present. 2020 is still YOUR year–you’ve got this.
Sometimes life throws us curveballs. It’s cliché, but it’s true. We cannot take for granted that the day before us will be like the one that preceded it. You have all had to learn that hard lesson throughout this crisis as we find ourselves in an unprecedented time in our country and the world.
Know that you are not alone.
The closest experience I have to mirror what is happening now occurred while I was driving to school on the morning of September 11th, 2001. I listened to an account of an attack on the Twin Towers perhaps in ways you heard about, but did not take seriously right away, mentions of the “Wuhan virus” in the media. At that time, the gravity of the situation was not taking hold of me. It was not until I arrived at school and saw footage of what was going on in New York that it hit me. I imagine the reality of our present situation did not really begin to set in for you until our last day of school. I am grateful that at least you were at school among your peers and our staff to say good-bye.
Know that we will get through this situation.
I know this is not the ideal scenario for any of you, that there were certainly other plans for the last days of your high school career. These are hard times for all of us, but it is precisely such instances of adversity that allow us to grow stronger and to rise to the occasion. Is it more difficult to graduate and get the most of your high school career given this crisis? Of course. But I believe in the capacity of each and every one of you to do it. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, “you will get through this not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard; because the goal to graduate will serve to organize and measure the best of your energies and skills, because that challenge is the one you are willing to accept, and one that you are unwilling to postpone.”
We are here for you.
As another American President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, once put it, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” The task before you is different and new, but not insurmountable. You can do it, and you will not have to do it alone. Wash your hands after you go out, be mindful of your surroundings and social interactions, but do not allow this pandemic to hamstring your lives more than it has already. Take joy in the little things. Look forward to your bright futures. Know that I am proud to know each and every last one of you.
I look forward to seeing you all when we can meet again for your graduation, and for the inevitable visits some of you will make to the school in the fall.
Take care of yourselves.
New School High
Bet you did not see this one coming! You spend 12 and-a-half years in school just to be thrust into online learning by an unprecedented event. People say that because you are young, you have not experienced everything. There is some truth to this, but now you have an experience that unites all the seniors in the world.
You have also heard that history repeats itself. For the past few centuries, the 20’s have had major plagues and this is just the newest version. Life is interesting that way. In one sense, it is a linear journey, and in another, it is a wheel that keeps turning. As you move forward through your life, you will see both of these situations. You are coming to the end of one phase and moving into another phase of life, and it can be scary. Just know that through every phase there are people who care about you and want you to succeed.
With each challenge you face, you will have to decide what you are going to do. There is another saying — last one, I promise! — you have the freedom of choice, but not the freedom from the consequence of that choice. This means you can choose what to do, think, and say, but you will have to deal with the fall out. This unusual challenge is another small taste of what you will see in the real world.
As you all know, I LOVE movie quotes and references. So here are a few from the movie Sucker Punch that are exceedingly appropriate for this moment as you move into your version of Marvel’s Phase 4:
If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
For those who fight for it, life has a flavor that the sheltered will never know.
And my personal favorite from this movie:
And finally this question, the mystery of whose story it will be. Of who draws the curtain? Who is it that chooses our steps in the dance? Who drives us mad? Lashes us with whips and crowns us with victory when we survive the impossible? Who is it that does all of these things? Who honors those we love for the very life we live? Who sends monsters to kill us, and at the same time sings that we will never die? Who teaches us what’s real and how to laugh at lies? Who decides why we live and what we’ll die to defend? Who chains us? And who holds the key that can set us free? It’s you. You have all the weapons you need. Now fight!
You know what you have accomplished this far. At the same time, you have no idea where your life will lead. All you can do is take one step at a time and see the path open before you. Go forth and leave a legacy worth talking about!
Just because we can never have too many movie quotes, here’s a last one from The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:
It is all perfect in the end. If it is not perfect, it is not the end.
Mr. McClary Science Teacher New School High
Sra. Hunt’s letter included some exciting visuals, so we’ve included it as a downloadable pdf!
Dear Senior Class of 2020,
It has been my distinct pleasure to know each of you this year and form relationships with each and every one of you. As I am writing this I am at a loss for words because I have so much left to say to each of you before you embark on your next journey in life. But, here we are… in a pandemic surrounded by uncertainty and isolation when you should be celebrating with your friends and family. This is most definitely not ideal and it actually sucks; but the way in which you handle this will mold you into the person who will go off on a new adventure in the fall. This is your chance to be the best version of yourself: do the work, be kind to your family and others, be motivated (even when it’s hard), and set goals for yourself. What may seem like a horrible reality can actually be viewed as a blessing in disguise — you get a sneak preview of how you handle adversity and challenges and you get to make changes and learn. But with learning and challenges comes the need for advice from others. So, here is my big piece of advice that someone gave me my senior year of high school and has served me well my entire life: never make a decision based on fear.
Fear is inevitable. It just is. But I can tell you from experience that I have some regrets in life (everyone does) and for all of those regrets I let my fears guide my choices. Now, I am not talking about jumping out of an airplane (hopefully with a parachute) or bungee jumping. I am talking about going to college out of state, getting toxic people out of your life, or accepting a job that you are nervous about. Life is scary. Change is scary. And that’s okay. Just remember that sometimes you have to make some decisions that scare you, but that means that they MATTER and that you CARE. So, I will end by saying, in these uncertain and scary times, make your choices based on what you want for yourself and your life moving forward after high school. Find the motivation and the drive to keep going. At the end of the day, that is all that matters. Make the decisions that are best for YOU.
You can do this. You are strong. You are capable. And remember, I am here for you.
Yours in Education,
Dean of Students
New School High
As strange as these times are, when I think back to the year I graduated from high school and think about what you are experiencing, I see a common thread.
I graduated from high school in 1968, “The Year That Shattered America.” That year, every US citizen was impacted every single day by a relentless barrage of tragic events: the devastating war in Vietnam we watched every night on TV; constant, deadly demonstrations, protests and riots across the nation; the tragic assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy; the chaos and violence of the Democratic Convention; the emergence of the Hong Kong flu pandemic that killed an estimated 1 million people worldwide. Like you, my senior classmates and I experienced emotions of confusion, anger, and grief that resulted from things beyond our control.
We all know the downside. What about the upside? Is there one? I believe there is. You will not be surprised at what I am going to say next: if our experiences shape us, then our challenge is to find the ways to use our experiences to learn. So here are three thoughts for you to consider:
- You have the opportunity to see real leadership in word and deed. There are generations of people who have not had this advantage, but you do! Only in times of true crisis are we able to clearly see who steps up. So… who stepped up? I’m talking about home, school, community, state, nation, and world. Are they giving you the information you need? Do you trust them? Are they moving things forward? Do you believe they care? Is their humanity apparent? Are they humble? Are they grateful? Do they encourage and inspire you and make you want to be your best self? Are they bringing people together? I’m not just talking about government officials. Some of the real leaders are the people who risk their own health every day to do the essential work the rest of us count on. Some of these are parents who are holding things together for the people who depend on them. What you see now will form your expectations for leadership for the rest of your life.
- You have the gift of going through something really, really tough, and going through it together with your family, friends, school, community, state, nation, and world. Just like those who endured the Great Depression and World War II, your generation will have a bond for your entire lives because you went through something hard and scary together. It doesn’t matter where you live or what you have or who you are. Crisis is the great equalizer. You are among the few who are fortunate enough to be able to experience what it’s like when the superficial things disintegrate and the real things — acts of selflessness, sacrifice, optimism, and hard work — are recognized for what they are: the things that really matter.
- Finally, you are fortunate to have so many chances to make the world a better place with almost no effort at all. By the simple discipline of staying indoors, you are potentially saving lives. You can also make an important difference in the lives of those close to you by offering a hand to your parents, encouraging your siblings, checking in on others who care about you. Want an even better challenge? Reach out to those you are not especially close to, or even those you don’t even like very much. There are many lonely people right now. Ask how they are doing. Share something funny or sweet. It doesn’t cost you anything. You might be surprised what comes back to you from the simple act of showing someone you care who is not expecting it.
Aside from gaining an academic education, your most important task in high school was to grow up. Living through these times will help you do that if you are wise enough to recognize the importance of this moment. You are young and strong. This means you have a privilege and a responsibility. I know you will rise to the occasion.
Stay safe and take care of yourselves and each other.
School Leader, Emeritus
New School High