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Students of the Class of 2020,

I am sorry your high school experience ended during a world-wide pandemic. This is certainly not what any of us wanted for your last few months in high school. Spring during senior year is a wonderful time to celebrate the relationships you have fostered, the knowledge you have acquired and how much you have grown during your high school career. I love watching the seniors on the campus hug, cry and smile during their last days of high school. I am truly sorry you missed out on those experiences.

However, as an eternal optimist I always look for lessons to learn and ways to improve from each situation. While it is totally understandable to be disappointed, even angry at the timing of this pandemic, it will be much more productive for you to reflect upon how you can grow from this experience.

Many of us were left with more free time during this pandemic. There was less school-work to do, no after school activities and even less time hanging out with friends. My mom always said, “If you are bored, it is because you are boring.” There are simply too many things to be fascinated by and too many activities to try and master to ever be bored for an extended period of time. This is a wonderful time to let your curiosity lead you to exploration. Learn to play guitar, write a book of poems, or anything else you have been putting off because you did not have the time. I promise you will be a more interesting person for the effort you put forth and also proud of what you accomplish.

Become a kinder and more empathetic person. The world needed more kindness before the pandemic and certainly needs even more now. If we are going to make our communities the types of places we can all be proud of, then kindness is going to be a core ingredient. Despite the challenges of isolation during this time, reach out to those you love and those in need. Let them know you care and miss them. The superpower of the future may well be empathy. Connecting with other human beings and understanding what is important to them will make you a better person and strengthen your community.

Lastly, spend the time and energy to become an educated citizen. Doing so will be a great service to your country and community. It is well worth the effort and required for a healthy democracy. This pandemic has taught us that we need wise, thoughtful leaders throughout our society for it to flourish. Our understanding and trust in science will be crucial to getting through this pandemic. Your dedication to being a life-long learner will pay great dividends for your own life, but also for the communities you are a part of.

I apologize for the way your high school experience ended, but I am optimistic for the future. My optimism stems from working with your generation of adolescents who are curious, kind and service-oriented.



Paul Waechtler

New Trier High School

Principal – Northfield Campus

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