The high school experience is a rite of passage. There is no other time in life quite like it. The energy of two thousand teenagers in a crowded gym, the sense of pride and unity in cheering for your team on a Friday night, the painted faces on parade marching through town during homecoming, the rhythmic bounce of the crowd during Saturday night’s dance. It is this sense of community–this collective aliveness that makes school a place where kids thrive. It’s so often the togetherness that helps us grow. It’s what I consider the difference between getting a diploma and getting an education.
The world robbed you of that this year. And it isn’t fair.
And yet …
Your experience this year was not in vain. You know what else is a worthwhile education, seniors? Leaning into discomfort, making a great sacrifice for the greater good, selflessly serving the community in which you live, and gaining gratitude and perspective from the experience of a shared adversity. This year–in addition to the learning you did in class–you have navigated one of the most challenging eras in the history of our country and the world at large. And even though you were not physically present, YOU SHOWED UP.
I have never before been so proud of a senior class. You may not have been able to show up in our halls or our gyms or our stadiums or our dances. But you showed up masked and distanced on Third Street to advocate for racial justice. You showed up on your various online platforms and modeled meaningful civil discourse during one of the most tense political elections of our time. You showed up during wildfires and ice storms to help your neighbors in need. And, you showed up in your bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens to learn in a way that no student has ever had to before.
In fact, seniors, you didn’t just learn about history this year. You made history. And let it be known that your legacy will be one of resilience, of wisdom, and of compassion. Before this pandemic hit, if you would have asked me what it is that I want most for students as a result of their education at McMinnville High School, it would have been just that: to become stronger, wiser, and kinder humans.
So, here’s to you, seniors, and your well-earned education. It is truly an honor to be your principal.