“The high school experience of the class of 2020 has been quite the unique one. In our sophomore year, we helplessly watched as the orange glow of fires creeped up the ridges of the hills surrounding our homes. During junior year, the normally clean, fresh, air was thick with dark smoke from another season of fires. Now, in our senior year, a global pandemic, the likes of which has not been seen in over a century, has forced the whole world to a standstill.”


I’m always interested in the student voice. Luis’ essay was published in the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation newsletter. It hit me hard.


“Year after year, disaster after disaster, today’s youth are beginning to accept tragedy as normal, and unfortunately, they should learn to accept that for the rest of their lives.”


Imagine if this is your view of the world; now imagine a generation accepting tragedy as normal. It is our responsibility to turn this around. Nobody should have to face repeated tragedy especially when humans make those tragedies.


“It is devastating to a majority of my fellow high school seniors to likely never be able to ride to senior prom with their friends or hear their families cheer as they walk the stage at graduation, but our frustrations go beyond just the culmination of high school. The COVID-19 pandemic is just another reminder of the world we are to inherit, and will be responsible to fix.”


Luis is one of those outstanding kids who always seem to be questioning, learning and engaging. When I was in high school I was mostly worried about girls and why Mr. T wore so many necklaces. Are you still wondering why so many kids want to just check out? Being responsible to fix the world is a heavy lift at 18.


“The leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, and parents of the future are now locked in their homes observing the repeated failures of those who came before them and understand that their lives will be consumed by geopolitical, economic, and climatic disasters that could have been avoided with proper foresight.”


Enlighten on young padowan. The joke I regularly make to my students that “my generation has screwed everything up and now you have to fix it” seems not so funny anymore. Time to work on some new material.


“Frankly, it can be disheartening to know that our lives will not be like those of our parents, but we will rise to the challenge. Born amidst 9/11, raised through 2008, and graduating during the pandemic of the century, we regret the tragedies that have followed our lifetime, but we will be prepared to face and conquer the future, even if that does mean we have to graduate via Zoom.”


Love the optimism, I emailed Luis immediately and asked if I could reprint his message.


“Hey Walt!


Great to hear from you, hope all is well. Yea I’d be honored to have you republish my essay, I think that it’s important to be optimistic but look at the real state of the world.





Fear knocked on the door, hope answered and no one was there.



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