Well, this has been quite the year so far, hasn’t it? I would have never imagined having to write this annual letter to you while in a pandemic, yet, here we are. Life always has ways of surprising us, doesn’t it?
It’s funny, when the pandemic first started back in March, some of you were happy that we had to resort to online learning. You loved the idea of staying home in your pajamas and taking classes from your bed or couch, but as time passed, you realized how much you missed school. In some ways, being so far removed from your normal routine of coming into the building, sitting alongside your friends in classes, and talking with teachers throughout the night, made you realize just how much you missed our little home away from home.
There were many of you who weren’t happy about the school's closing from the moment we told you we had to conduct virtual learning. You couldn't imagine not coming into school to see Gabe at the front desk with a box of donuts greeting you, Dave going from room to room fixing technical issues and challenging you to a game of foosball or chess, Ashley inviting you into her office to talk things through, George dishing out chits for class participation, and myself asking you to join an upcoming field trip, college fair or open mic night.
And there are some of you who graduated in December that were still able to enjoy all of these moments throughout your last days at HECS, for it is precisely these smaller, seemingly ordinary moments, that make our school a home.
One of my favorite parts of doing this work with all of you is seeing how much you grow and change as a result of being in our program. Many of you told me in your initial intake that you thought there was something “wrong” with you for not continuing in traditional school, or that you felt self-conscious attending an alternative program. Then, after your first few days or weeks with us, it was as though a light was turned on and you saw yourself for who you truly are.
You’re someone who’s strong enough to know that when something isn't working for you to try another route. You’re someone who when met with difficulty, rises to the occasion and experiments with new ways of being. You’re someone who faces your fears head on and trusts yourself enough to know what’s right for you. You’re someone who continues to show up for yourself, each and every day, even when it feels like the hardest thing to do.
You, graduating class of 2020, are the alternative. Your ability to embrace and adapt to new and different methods is what sets you apart from the rest. Your power lies in how you’re able to see what most other people can’t see and do what other people can’t do.
You, my students turned family, are powerful beyond measure, and just graduating from our school and virtual learning is a testament to that. Call upon the strength you endured to finish high school, either under these current circumstances or not, and take it with you whenever you need it. You’re capable of handling anything, going after your heart’s truest desires and becoming anything you want to be.
We’ll always be here for you if you need us, sometimes with donuts at the front desk, others with challenges for a friendly round of chess, and mostly to hear you out for whatever life throws your way.
You did it! We are so proud of your accomplishments and honored to be part of your journey. Now go out there and show the world what you proved to us - that you’re already becoming who you were meant to be.