I am not the mom of a 2020 senior.
Or, I wasn’t until my city began an “Adopt a Senior” page online.
The premise was simple — our community would come together to celebrate the class of 2020. Each senior would have a few facts about them posted on the page by friends or family, and the community would step up to “adopt” them. The hope was that each senior would be adopted by two people who would bring little gifts in an attempt to take away a bit of the sting caused by the cancellation of a traditional graduation.
Within days, nearly 2,000 community members clamored to adopt the class of 2020, with dozens of comments appearing under each smiling picture. Former teachers beamed with pride while gifting their now-adult students. Family friends posted pictures proclaiming their love to children they have watched grow.
And, in most cases, total strangers showed up on doorsteps with gift baskets clutched in our hands, honored with the opportunity to show the class of 2020 how very proud we are.
I see in my “adopted son” what I wish for my own kids. A baseball player, like my own sons. A dedicated student, a peer mediator, and a kid whose family made sure to mention has a wonderful sense of humor. Matthew, I wish you the best in the years to come. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish in life.
I join my community in offering the following message to “our” seniors:
Dear Class of 2020,
You have shown an amazing amount of resiliency as you finished your schooling in a manner new to us all. Your relentless optimism in the face of the crushing disappointment of your senior activities being lost is an inspiration to us all.
It may seem as though you are leaving high school — and your youth — without ever really finishing.
In reality, your youth is like a book. You began your story as the first babies born after 9/11. Your childhood took place during a time when we adults were trying to figure out how to live in a world that had been reshaped in an instant. As the story of your youth ends, you are now stepping into adulthood as the first generation, yet again, as we learn to reshape our world in the wake of COVID-19.
The time of your youth may be book-ended by tragedy, but you have persevered.
You have been resilient in the face of discouragement, adaptive in the face of change, strong in the face of heartbreak. You hold unique talents, strengths, and abilities that will surpass those of the generation before you. You are an inspiration.
And so, class of 2020, as you close the door to your youth, I leave you with this final message:
Brush your teeth.
Eat your vegetables.
Drink enough water.
Chase your dreams.
Change the world for the better.