April 22, 2020
An Open Letter to the Class of 2020 Seniors,
In has been just six weeks since your last days together as seniors in the halls of Kelso High School. Since that last day, March 12th, the world of education—and especially for you as a senior—has changed drastically. Change, uncertainty, and emotions have filled our lives since the closure of schools. And yet, you are not strangers to this adversity. Nineteen years ago, you entered the world at another tumultuous time – when the world, post 9-11, was forced to adjust and change our way of life. You were the first generation who have always had to go through security checks, the first to have always had to take off your shoes before being allowed to board a plane. You came into the world during a time of chaos, and chaos is now ushering you out of high school as you enter adulthood. None of us could have imagined this scenario for the last months of your senior year.
Maya Angelou said “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
There is wisdom in her words. Life is not an endless series of pleasant experiences – we all learn from adversity. We learn about our character, our resolve, and we develop plans to move forward.
In my role as Superintendent of Kelso School District AND a parent of a Class of 2020 senior myself, I am personally proud of your dedication and resolve that I have witnessed first-hand for the past 13 years. I admire this senior class and your ability to face challenges together. While it may not be the senior year ending you dreamed of, it will still be YOUR senior year, unique amongst your peers, and you will reap memories and character for a lifetime.
I know you, your family, and your friends were looking forward to the many events that are the culmination of your high school career. Some of those events include hanging out in the hallways for one last time, pep assemblies, prom, yearbook signings, senior reception, cramming for one last final (or maybe not?!?!), competing with your classmates on spring sports teams, barbeques, senior awards assembly, theatre productions, music concerts, senior slide show, and one last summer before you head off for your next season of life. Though many of these changes will certainly disappoint you, they will definitely not define you.
I want you to know that all of our high school administrators and staff are committed to recognizing and celebrating your accomplishments as you prepare for the next exciting chapter of your lives. We are committed to finding creative ways to celebrate your graduation, baccalaureate, senior awards, scholarship night, and much more. The KHS staff will be sharing updates around these events soon.
Rest assured, seniors, if you were in good standing at the end of trimester two and are engaging in trimester three, you will graduate. A State Board of Education waiver will be approved soon for Kelso School District. This will provide maximum flexibility for graduation requirements. Your Kelso High School counselors are working to communicate information in regards to next steps. Please continue to reach out to your teachers, counselors, and administrators when you need support.
Please stay engaged in your academics to finish the year strong. Your commitment will continue to leave a legacy for the classes behind you.
You may be feeling a range of emotions with this abrupt change to your senior year and the disruption in your life. I empathize that your emotions may have turned into uncertainty, stress, and sadness. The most important message I want to send to you is this – you have everything you need to get through this and be a stronger person for having done so. All of us in Kelso School District want you to feel supported. The trusted staff who have known you since you first entered our schools are going to provide you the academic and social-emotional support you need. If you need someone to talk to, if you are worried about a classmate, or a friend, please reach out to your teachers, school counselors, and other adults at KHS for help. We are all in this together.
Class of 2020 – your experience has been interrupted AND the final chapter has yet to be written. All of your teachers and staff are committed to working with you so that this last chapter honors your voice and your legacy.
On June 6th, you won’t only become members of Kelso High School’s graduating Class of 2020, you will also become members of the greater Kelso community. This is your home, regardless of where you end up living. The mantra “WE ARE” follows you for a lifetime.
I’ve personally enjoyed watching you learn, grow, and compete over the years in Kelso and I look forward to seeing you succeed in all you choose to do in the years ahead. Please feel free to reach out to me at the email below.
Best wishes to each of you and remember that you are a Hilander for Life!
Mary Beth Tack, Superintendent
Kelso School District