If I would have known on that Friday in March that I was sending you off to a new world instead of to an extended Spring Break, I would have spent my last 46 minutes in person with you much differently.
Instead of rounding up books, collecting rubrics, and anxiously giving instructions for what I thought was a week or two of distance learning, I would have told you this.
You are going to high school, one of the most momentous steps of your young life, during a global crisis that even the smartest of adults don’t fully understand.
You went home on that Friday in March, giddy and thrilled, for a much needed respite from your overly-busy lives. Then, instead of a break, you found yourself with that familiar life swept away like the old magic trick where the tablecloth is pulled out from under the dishes. The key items of your world remained: your family, your home, your red-cased school issued iPad, like the dishes still balanced on the table. But like the tablecloth, a big layer of your life went missing.
You don’t get to graduate like all the classes before you with the dress, the suit, the cap and the handshake. You don’t get to orient yourself at high school, your next big world. You don’t get to have you Spring sports season, or parties with friends or a rambunctious end to your monotonous, yet under-appreciated, 8th grade schedule.
You don’t even get to have the security of knowing where our world is headed.
If I would have known on that Friday in March that was the last time I got to be your teacher face-to-face, I would have told you this.
As much as I don’t want you to have to go through this difficult time, I know from your insights, writing, empathy and humor that you will be a part of the solution our world desperately needs.
I know that you will be okay and you will help make things okay as you lead the way growing up differently than all the classes before you.
I know you will make the next iteration of our world a better one.
If I would have known on that Friday in March, I would have kept the handouts and the notebooks you didn’t need, and I would have reminded you of your strength and intelligence, which you will.
And then I would have insisted you use all your choice time and be a kid in your old world, one last time. If I would have known.