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A Letter to the Class of 2020

18 Mar 2020

“You plan and plan, you do all the right things, and now…well. Here we are.” – Lauren Sandoval, Class of 2020

To the Class of 2020,

Right now you’re mourning. You’re mourning prom. You’re mourning the loss of your activities, your spring season, your last big moment of high school.

No one can say you didn’t earn it. You planned. You did all the right things. You waited patiently and worked diligently for years… YEARS. It was your turn. 

Your time.

Your moment.

And now it’s gone and you’re wondering what’s next.

I didn’t plan for my path to diverge either. I had my life perfectly planned. I even joined yearbook my junior year to make sure that I was a part of those big memories. 

Then in the matter of ten seconds, the time it takes for a car to crash, the fun and reward of homecoming, prom, events, tests, games, performances, competitions… was all laid out in pieces. The remainder of my junior year disappeared, and with it the future I had painstakingly planned.

I had planned. I had done everything right. 

It just wasn’t working.  So I made a huge choice. I decided to graduate. 

I decided to skip my senior year.

Prom. Homecoming. Graduation. 

Twelve years.  Twelve years of school and waiting for that last day. Getting your picture on the graduation page of the paper. Of dancing with your significant other, a crush, or just a friend at prom. Getting dressed up and making memories with your friends. 

I would miss all of that. I did miss all of it.

Instead, I graduated in a quick 30 minute ceremony in July in an auditorium that wasn’t my own, wearing my school colors and being only one of two others that donned Scotsman green. I took pictures on a foreign high school campus. There were no flowers. There was no orchestra playing Pomp and Circumstance 80 times. The auditorium was only half-full.

I shook hands with our superintendent, got my diploma, and went home. 

Anticlimactic, really. 

Life doesn’t go according to plan. Cliche I know, but painstakingly true. 

But you know what? When I stopped being sad for what I’d lost I realized what I did have… wasn’t nothing.

I had memories of my friends tasting ice cream and dreading our next math test and on and on. I still had all of the things that made me me.  I just got a head start on making college freshman memories.

Oh and I know you have to live it to know it, but High School memories are way overrated. 

I want to leave you with this advice:

One of the Stanford short question essays this year was the following: “If you had an extra hour in the day, each day, how would you spend it?”

If you’re like me you’ll answer without hesitation… “sleep.”

This… thing we’re all living through, might be your chance to live out, for a short while at least, your answer to that question.

Take this opportunity to really spend time with your family. Live and laugh. Lean on one another. Use the miracle of Facetime, Zoom, or other online apps to talk to your friends. Play silly games. Confide in one another.

Learn something that you’ve never had time to learn before. Juggle. Latin. Wikipedia.

This is your chance.

When you leave for college and you come back to visit your family, it will be different. It won’t be exactly the same. And while that’s part of growing up and becoming the person you’re bound to become, this is your chance now to create memories. Cherish those moments together.

Will this shape you? Yes. Just as 9/11 and the Great Recession shaped my generation. 

But we’re stronger for it. I’m stronger for it.  And you’ll get through this and you will be stronger as well.

Best,

Kat Clowes, Highland High School Class of 1999 (almost 2000)

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