Dear class of 2021,

We all spent a lot of time last fall mourning all the class ahead of you lost, naively assuming your senior year would be better. In all honesty, not to rub salt in the wound, I think you lost out on more than any other class over the last 14 months. I’m terribly sorry we overlooked your losses early on in this crazy pandemic life. 

You lost your junior prom and now senior prom. Varsity sports were cut short and played without your fans cheering you on . . . if they happened at all. There were no senior trips, homecoming festivities, winter formals, or school plays. Band, orchestra, and choir performances you’ve worked for since you were little all fell to the wayside. You lost the rites of passage we all take for granted, out of precaution of keeping people safe from a pandemic virus spreading around the globe. 

I don’t think anyone saw this coming or would have believed it could happen if someone had tried to warn us sooner. 

However, as I have talked to many of you over the last few months, you have made it clear you will not allow what was taken from you to define you. You adapted to new learning styles while leading the way as capable leaders to the other kids watching you. When the adults were frustrated with technology (we don’t deal well with change) and how school would look in this new world, you never batted an eye. 

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You Zoomed, aced Google Docs, managed ever-changing schedules, and showed more patience and grace through it all than people much older than you. You’re prepared for life in a way no book or class could have taught you. You mastered empathy, cooperation, and the ever-important art of pivoting.

When the world shut down, you rose up. 

While we were worried about all you were missing out on, you shifted your sights on all you were gaining. You tightened friendships that will guide you into adulthood, learned what really matters in life, and spent precious time with your family before flying the nest. These things will take you farther than any prom crown, homecoming float, or sports season will. 

But I also know, for all the good things you gathered it still doesn’t seem fair. You deserved better than you got and we all know it. No amount of sugar-coating will ever make this year easy to swallow. You got ripped off. I am sorry. We all are. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. 

Yet through it all, you’re still here. Finishing the work you started 13 years ago as tiny kindergarteners scattered on a brightly colored rug with a whole world of possibilities in front of you. While you’ve grown and replaced the bright rug with a shiny cap and gown, never forget that your possibilities are still the same. They’re out there. 

You fought for them and earned them. No matter what obstacles were placed in front of you, it was never enough to stop you.

Take a look back at all you accomplished while the odds were against you, now imagine what you will do as you move forward. The rest of us already see there is something special in all of you, a light that cannot be dimmed. 

RELATED: I’m the Parent of a Rising Senior and Refuse To Give Up on This Year

Thank you for showing us what determination and hope look like. Thank you for giving us a future to look forward to, no matter what odds we may face. You are a class unlike any other and one we will never forget. 

Forever yours, 

Everyone who watched you soar

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Danielle Peterson

Danielle Peterson is a wife and mom of two from Michigan. Armed with a slew of worries and insecurities, she is learning to live a life she loves. She shares her journey on her blog to connect, inspire, and help others along the way. She loves traveling, hiking, camping, and occasional adventures; along with daily doses of God, coffee, books, yoga, owls, and naps. She is not an expert, but she'll make you smile and help you carry on.

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