Here To Win


And empty football field filled with chairs ready to welcome the high school graduating class of 2021

Dear Class of 2021,

You surprised me.

I’m not gonna lie, when I took that job at your high school, I assumed we’d just get you set up for COVID-19 preventatives: furniture at 6 feet apart, hand sanitizers at every corner, and COVID stations in each classroom; and then after two weeks of hybrid learning, they’d close the school and go back to remote/distance learning. Two weeks. I gave you two weeks to impress me. And you did. Actually, after that first week, I didn’t want to leave. You were courageous in creating connections with one another.

Two weeks.

Well, next thing I know it’s nearly halloween, and you’ve asked me to read your college essays. You’re preparing for the future. You’re still moving forward even though the world around you seemed to have halted and stopped in time. You made plans. And you invited me to be a part of your plans.

This really is less of a list of helpful tips for adulthood (I mean really who has life figured out? Um, not me) and more of a big giant compliment and applause. Let’s have an encore some day (minus a pandemic).

Not only did you impress me, you embraced me. You welcomed this overly enthusiastic southerner and invited me into your world, your hurts, your complaints, your successes, and your celebrations. I’m beyond grateful for you and your courage to be vulnerable. The world was scary--goodness, is scary. And when things change so often as they had this last school year, what is even the point to open up when I might not even see you again. And to that, I say thank you for reminding me that each second is important. Be brave in meeting strangers with vulnerability and kindness. Thank you for opening up to me. It was the best surprise of the year.

My wish for you--well, I guess, it would be to remember that you are capable. Remember all those crazy changes you endured, the days of waking up and wondering what day it is: Do I need to Zoom or do I actually go to school? Oh, it’s actually Saturday and I have a shift at work. Do I take my covid test today or is that tomorrow, or was that yesterday? Who even knows. You processed the changes, adapted, and endured what most adults couldn’t handle. I am so impressed. Y’all are winners, such winners.

Wishing you beautiful sunsets,

I suppose when things feel dark and scary and you’re uncertain about where to go or what to do, have comfort in knowing you are strong, you are cheered for, and you are more than capable.