Maybe you are a senior perched on the edge of everything. Maybe you have a senior at home just trying to make the best of a crappy situation to finish this last year of high school from their bedroom or your kitchen table thanks to COVID-19, social distancing, and remote learning. Maybe your work place is missing a senior who bagged groceries, hostessed on weekends, washed dishes or kept kids entertained during summer camp. Maybe your senior is a granddaughter or grandson or other family member whom you’ve not been able to see because you are doing your best at mitigating the spread of the virus. Maybe your seniors are the ones who fill your classrooms, or the same ones you had in kindergarten learning to tie shoes and read stories, and this is one problem you can’t fix or make any easier. Maybe these seniors filled your softball/ baseball diamonds, basketball courts and soccer fields or bands and choral groups…
Regardless, this “being perched on the edge of everything” without the promise of a senior spring really stinks, and we are sorry. One senior shared with me, “I just had no idea that March 13 would be my last official day of high school– like with lockers and friends and laughter in hallways and classes with teachers. I would give anything to go back just for one more day.”
One more day would be pretty awesome. And if there is anything this time has taught us at home these last six weeks is the awareness of every little detail we miss at school and in our regular lives. For me, as a teacher, it’s a little different than what it might be for you, the senior in high school, perched on edge of everything. And if we are screwing this up too from home, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, please understand– we’ve never done this before either. If we were at school, we could process some kind of life altering event that forever changes the course of history together– like our own teachers did when the Challenger exploded killing all the astronauts as fifth graders like me watched on TV in real time, or later understanding the significance of the Berlin Wall coming down. Or later still what we we would do as teachers on September 11 or following every school shooting that filled our news feeds for the last two decades. We would let you talk it out or ask questions or clarify issues– even when we didn’t (or even still) have any answers.
I can’t make you laugh in person or cry with you, except over Google Meet or email, and, well, that just isn’t the same as sitting at my round table in Room 114. We can’t fix this. Your parents can’t either, but we can listen and give you a safe place to vent or time to be alone with your thoughts. You get to be angry. You get to be irritated with the state of your senior year during the state of COVID- 19. We can’t guarantee what kind of special graduation may happen in June or even what the world might look like then. But it doesn’t change how special you have been to us, and we will do our best to honor that.
And as in any challenge or set back once you realize the situation, you move forward. Very few seniors have survived this long in life without overcoming challenges, disappointment, and frustration. You are still perched on the edge of everything, and COVID 19 is powerless against the choices you make about your attitude. With every high school milestone there is a litany of accompanying cliches about decisions made, paths taken, roots developed, wings strengthened, villages, etc, so you can decide whether to fly away or stay close to home, pursue college, the workforce or the military. So many choices.
But here’s the thing that remains. You still have a nest here. No matter what has happened to your last 12 weeks of high school, they are gone and not coming back, at least traditionally. However, you are still perched on the edge of everything. You still get to have your “flight from the nest.” Once the world opens again, you will head out on your own, still backed by the family and friends who helped to build your nest. Your “nest time” has just been extended. You have already found the silver lining of extra family focus, but the Class of 2020, at least the members I know, were already grateful for their support networks, siblings, friends, and teachers. Most kids don’t realize how good we have had it at home until we leave the nest. You haven’t left yet, but you know deep in your bones, this “down time” before any flight is restful and reflective. You know what you had when you had it, and that makes you even more ready for what comes next. Who knows what this extra “nest time” might mean down the road for you– could be everything. We just don’t know because we’ve never had to do this before.
For our local seniors, we are honored to have been your teachers even just for part of your journey to be ready for life “beyond the nest.” Here’s to a greater understanding of your nest, being perched on the edge of everything, and looking ahead to all that comes next.