An Open Letter to High School Students

May 13, 2021

You navigate through a maze of challenges every day. Simply transitioning from one class to another invites a myriad of obstacles. Within any given 24 hour period, you face internal and external conflict. Friendships falter and explode in a single post. Text messages often ignite a wildfire of emotions in a single miscommunication. Pressure to succeed consumes you.

Anxiety, at times, controls your every waking moment. 

The maze of challenges ripples through your high school years like a pebble disturbing the calm of a pond. Sometimes, the ripples create waves. Sometimes the waves crash upon you, smothering you. Other times they gently cascade, creating a smooth and easy path. Each experience you share resonates differently among you. Your journey, like you, is beautifully unique and filled with purpose. Sometimes the meaning is hidden among the rocky paths you navigate.

While this paints a picture of your journey, it fails to communicate the added pressures of high school in a pandemic. You, my friends, sojourned the past year as warriors. You rose above countless obstacles. In a season of life designed to develop young adults, you found yourself restricted. 

Masks designed to protect you from illness suffocated your independence.

Milestones were missed or altered. 

They say hope deferred makes the heart sick. There were days this past year that deferred your hope. Your face was hidden, but the windows of your soul sometimes screamed disappointment. 

Another quarantine.

Another missed game.

A lost performance. 

The hope of in-person learning quickly faded. The yo-yo effect of quarantine jerked your body back and forth as whiplash suffered in a car accident. 

Sometimes you screamed at the injustice. Sometimes you threw your hands up, resigned to hopelessness. 

But all the while, I watched in awe of you. Where others saw despair, I saw grit. When others screamed for things to be fair, I watched you persevere. When others said, what’s the point? I watched your resilience soar.

My heart aches at the treasures lost to you in this year of pandemic. I would give anything to wave a magic wand and give you a “normal” high school year. But as Maya Angelou said, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” 

You, my friends, are anything but ordinary. You are magnificent. The pandemic allowed you to empower yourself with grit and resilience. I presume that you would all rather pass on this empowerment. But I know with all that I am, you will leave an indelible mark on our world.

I love you forever. I like you for always. As long as I’m living my students you’ll be. 

You Matter.

Love, Mrs. Worley