Dear High School Seniors,
My heart is absolutely breaking for you right now as are those of your family, friends and especially your parents. You are a class whose young lives are marked by world changing events. You are the first year of seniors to have been born after the terrorist attacks of 2001. You were born as the consequences of those events began to quickly evolve, while your families were grieving those lost and a world that would never be the same. Now as you prepared to transform and make your next big entrance everything again changed in the blink of the collective eye.
I know of many of the Rimrock and Glenns Ferry Seniors from watching you grow up through your families' Facebook pages, but to the students of the three Mountain Home High Schools, I have truly watched you grow up and turn into amazing young adults. You were members of the Mountain Home Swim Club with my daughter, I've coached you in Junior High Track, and Parks and Recreation Sports. I've watched you perform in productions through the Missoula Children's Theater with my children and cheered you on from the sidelines as you entered high school and took it all up a notch. As a reporter and now as the editor of the town newspaper, I have had a front row seat to all of your accomplishments and have been one of your biggest cheerleaders. You've excelled academically and athletically and most of all you've excelled at becoming honorable, intelligent human beings. Last year I watched as so many of you became involved in finding ways to help with the opening of our local domestic violence shelter and watched you make campaigning politicians squirm with your hard questions. I am so proud to have all of you as members of my community, knowing that each and everyone of you are on paths to be amazing members of society. I truly am so, so sad that we will not watch you walk across the stage in a few weeks (I truly hope that the communities of Bruneau, Grand View, Glenns Ferry and Mountain Home do something completely amazing to help commemorate this milestone, but understand that it won't be the same).
It hurts my heart to know you are losing out on your Senior track, softball and baseball seasons. Our debaters have made their last closing arguments and Encore has taken its last curtain call. Some of you have already lost your last year of eligibility for high school rodeo and are fearing the cancellation of your last year showing 4-H or FFA animals at our county fair.
If there is one piece of advice I can give you right now it's take the time to learn things you either didn't feel there was time for or thought weren't necessary to learn in the world we lived in. Because, in my opinion, that is key in all of this, the Coronavirus Pandemic has truly changed the world as we know it. You have grown up in a global economy that moved at ultimate speed when it came to providing everything we needed at a click of the button. As a society we have become accustomed to being able to buy anything we needed to survive. We are quickly seeing how one event can change all of that. In my opinion, this part of our lives could be changed for a very long time and in this particular instance, perhaps it's for the better. Humans weren't meant to rely solely on capitalism for our survival. Use this time at home to learn how to grow your own food in a garden. Cook for yourself or your family by cracking open Grandma's cookbook. Skip using boxed or jarred ingredients. Spend sometime working on your vehicles, learning a craft such as crocheting, sewing, woodworking or welding. If anything this experience should teach all of us that we need to be able to provide for ourselves and our families without Amazon or the nearest big box store.
Then take a look around at the "Essential Workers" that you know, they're our tradesman. The lineman keeping the power on, the plumber, electrician, truck driver and glaziers, they're still going to work everyday making sure our world keeps turning. Tradesman are, and always will be, essential to life as we know it. Not everyone needs or should head to a four year college upon graduation. Explore going the trade school route where you will still provide an amazing life for your family, some of these skills are in short supply and need your talents.
I am so sorry for all of this, none of us can imagine what it is you all are going through, other than each other. Stick together through these times. Love each other, support each other, you are a class who is experiencing something the world has never seen.
One thing is for certain to me though, whatever it is that you choose to do moving forward, you will make us all proud. You are a graduating class full of resiliency, you have experienced so much change in your lives already and you have done it with grace and an unwavering character that shows you are up for anything thrown at you.
As a lover of history there is something else I am asking all of you to do: remember these times and keep track of them. Write in a journal, start a blog, Instagram it, memorialize it through a Facebook post, a podcast or video journal even. While us journalists are getting the first crack at writing this story as we frantically try to give you the "first draft of history," you will be the ones to truly write the history of these times. It will be your voices, your thoughts and your experiences that future generations look to try to understand what the world was like in 2020. You will share the emotions of these times with future generations as you lived it while speaking from your hearts. Document these experiences, set them in stone, you are experiencing this history in a way that no one else will quite understand. Use that voice.