You made it.

 

Everyone who is watching this? Deserves a high five, a pat on the back or the happy dance of their choosing.

You.

 

You have made it through what could be described as one of the most challenging, confusing and heart-breaking few months of history in your lifetime, and likely ours, too.

So as you finish up the school year, all of you students and teachers out there deserve a hearty thank you, for sacrificing, for caring for each other and for showing up, and pivoting to remote distance learning rapidly, and for offering each other grace.

We know it hasn’t been easy.

We know you all gave up some of the most nearest and dearest experiences in this moment, and that you suffered significant loss, of beloved family or friends, or once in a lifetime experiences. And you did this to help other people, most of whom you have never met. In fact, your actions, your staying home, staying physically distant, your hand washing, directly impacted the lives of others, helping them stay healthy during this crisis. YOU did that. And we have you to thank!

And teachers? Whoo! You have led with love.

You have called, emailed, video conferenced, coordinated, created, shifted, so many things, all in service of caring for your students and colleagues. This was a monumental task. We have been incredibly moved, inspired, and touched by your expressions of care, love and connection with your students. To you, we are forever grateful.

And now, to the ones moving on.

To the ones changing schools, launching into middle school, launching into high school, and the ones launching into life post-high school. It is you we wanted to bring this message to. It is you who gives us hope for the future. Why? Because during all of this, you met the moment with creativity and perseverance. You are both missing the culmination of your learning experiences, and are launching into uncertain times. But you are also the generation with the greatest amount of compassion for each other, poised to push our society into a new era, one centered on a shared humanity, one that we see in each one of you when you tell your story, when you advocate for new laws and policies, and when you check in on your friends, neighbors, and communities.

We need you.

The adults in your world have left much undone. There is so much to dismantle and to recreate. Our society continues to perpetrate oppression, to separate, to label, to devalue and harm. There is so much left to do, and we believe in you and will join you in this work.

We salute you, as you move on to new horizons. Know that you can always redefine who you are, and who you want to be. This is your chance to decide. To change course if you want to. And to work toward the values and vision only you can know.

Raising a toast to you, graduates, students, and teachers. You did this incredibly hard thing, under the most difficult circumstances, and we congratulate you. You made it.

 

Author

Katy Farber

Farber joined TIIE after 17 years as a classroom teacher in central Vermont. She is passionate about promoting student and teacher voice, engaging early adolescent students, sharing the power of service learning, and creating inclusive communities where joy, courageous conversations and kindness are the norm. She lives in central Vermont with her husband and two daughters and loves being outside with family and friends, listening to music, writing about the world, and jumping into Vermont ponds and lakes.

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