Letter to High School Seniors

Dear high school seniors of 2020,

It has been a year since I was where you were. It was like a finish line. Each day, I was counting down until I was released from high school to find more freedom in college. There were things I was looking forward to, even though they seemed a little cheesy to me. There was the senior class trip, senior dinners, senior prom (and post-prom), and ultimately, graduation. In between, there were little memories I was making with my friends.

Unlike you guys, I realized that I lacked something in my experience of high school. When schools started closing, I never realized how much I enjoyed seeing my friends each day. I never understood how school was more than an academic center. Now, I see it as a social center where I am learning not just the regular school subjects but life lessons. These were the places where we spent most of our childhood and teenage years. However, I never had the opportunity to look back and think about how great this time was for all of us. And I am hopeful that you get the chance to do the same thing.

I may not be the best alumni to say all of this. I skipped my junior prom, thinking I did not deserve to go after having a catastrophic time with classes and balancing everything I wanted to do. I told myself in the end that I was not missing much. Instead, as everyone slowly left school early, I took the time for myself. I skipped a lot of homecoming week activities, thinking they were a waste of my time. I skipped going to Disney World with everyone else because I thought it was not worth the cost. I thought the memories would not be worth it. During those days, I never skipped school. I went to classes and sat by myself in the room, thinking the extra time could be used for other important things. During the time everyone else was on the trip, I can at least say that I made memories with some underclassmen, especially during my final Reading Olympics competition. That is better than nothing. Although, in the end, I missed out on so many huge opportunities where I would have been able to bond with my friends in my grade. However, that was my choice.

As of recently, in Pennsylvania, schools are closed for the rest of the school year. For seniors, this means they are missing out on all these special moments that were built for them. This is the year that students look forward to the most. They are only days away from the next step to freedom. But the closure of schools does not mean they worked so hard for nothing. No, you have done so much, and you deserve to be celebrated for your achievements.

I know that you are feeling frustrated, sad, or even mad. This situation came out of nowhere and put a stop to your plans. However, I hope you still value the time that you have already spent with your friends, even though seeing them in-person is challenging right now. I am not talking about those big moments. Those can always be replaced in the future. I am hoping you made the most of your time since day one. I hope you did what you could while you had that time.

Even if your senior year was cut short, you have spent time at school for more than just this year. You had freshman year where it felt like a new start to life. Remember when you were meeting some new people who may have become your friends? You felt renewed because high school had a different feeling to it than middle school. Next, you had sophomore year where things were beginning to settle down as you felt a newer energy in your life. Afterwards, junior year came to present more challenges, but you made it to senior year eventually. During that time, you were able to make new friends, make new memories, and have fun each day. I hope you remember those small moments that make you laugh out loud just by thinking about them. Hopefully, you keep in touch with some of the friends you have made in high school. Some of them may be the ones you will keep in touch with down the road too.

I am proud of what you have all been able to do. Senior year is not easy because you are still working hard towards the end. I know that some of you were supposed to have AP exams, which would have opened up more opportunities in college. To all high school seniors, celebrate yourself for what you have been able to accomplish. Tell your friends the same things too because I think you all need to hear this. You did so much for the past few years, and it is time to give yourself a pat on the back. Keep up the good work! You can do this!

Yours truly,

A former high schooler