To the Class of 2023:
As we picture you today in your colorful matching caps and gowns, walking to the familiar strains of “Pomp and Circumstance,” we acknowledge that your road to graduation was far different from our own.
Yours was a uniquely wild ride.
You started high school in the fall of 2019, with no inkling of the massive upheaval ahead. Then, as the second semester of your freshman year began, you watched as a mysterious and deadly virus swept rapidly across the globe.
In March 2020, your school and others across the country closed for what you no doubt thought would be a few days, maybe a few weeks.
Those weeks, however, turned into months as the global pandemic changed our world and upended your high school years.
Overnight, remote learning replaced the camaraderie of your classrooms. After-school activities, dances and games – all the reasons you probably looked forward to high school – were canceled or drastically altered. Mental health concerns rose as you struggled through these incredible times.
“Overnight, remote learning replaced the camaraderie of your classrooms. After-school activities, dances and games – all the reasons you probably looked forward to high school – were canceled or drastically altered. Mental health concerns rose as you struggled through these incredible times.”
When you finally went back to school, you did so in masks. Hybrid learning, social distancing and testing became a part of your routine, at least for awhile.
Your high school years were vastly different, and not just because of COVID-19. They were marked by other historic events – unrest following the killing of George Floyd, the brutal aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, the overturning of Roe vs. Wade, mass school shootings, the growing shadow of climate change. Each left its mark.
But as you head out into the world, know this: We have great faith in you.
We have watched you weather these tough times with courage and resilience. We have admired your generation’s tolerance for those who are different. We have been inspired by your commitment to protect our planet.
We take pride in who you have become and foster hope that you will forge a better future for yourselves and those who follow.
Some of you have already collected your diplomas; others are just days away. It’s a time to look back on your school years and forward to college, work or whatever other adventures lie ahead.
For now, however, enjoy the moment.
Celebrate your successes amid all the struggles. Take time to appreciate the families that shaped you, the teachers who got you to graduation day and the friends who made this wild ride through the past four years a lot less bumpy.
Congratulations, Class of 2023. We wish you the very best.
The Daily Herald