Dear Class of 2020,
I always thought it would be great to be part of a class with such an even and perfect number. 2011 is so odd, drab, and prime. 2020 is even, symmetrical, and even owns a personal collection of bad puns.
And then everything changed. I still remember that fateful day, March 13. I jokingly told some of you “Goodbye, I might never see you again,” as you headed out the door to enjoy your weekend. It was all supposed to be a big joke, right? Well, some joke. The next thing we knew, it was Google Classroom, video lessons, and Zoom calls.
I can barely begin to imagine all the things that COVID-19 stole from you. Your senior banquet. Your senior trip, choir tours, and evangelism trip. Volleyball season and the biannual day of softball. A real graduation ceremony. The experience of those final weeks with all your classmates….
It’s just not fair.
I don’t want to be a part of the class of 2020 anymore. In fact, I don’t even want to be a teacher to the class of 2020 anymore. The pain and loss is too great.
And yet, here we are. COVID-19 happened. We can’t change that reality and we’re left to pick up the pieces.
But you guys are strong. Yes, the struggle was real, but I’ve read your short essays about surrender and finding God in the midst of the pandemic. I’ve seen you come together and support each other through this hard time. I’ve seen you smile in the midst of all the loss. I’ve seen you press on through the impersonal video teaching, Zoom calls, and literal HOMEwork to get your diplomas.
I’m proud of each one of you.
Early this year, we looked at the life of Kobe Bryant, the fierce competitor who seemed willing to do anything to win. His amazing work ethic and the sacrifices he made contributed to making him one of the greatest basketball players of the age. The same types of things could be said of any elite athlete. Or Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, George Whitfield, and Oprah Winfrey. Switch over to Biblical characters and you have Joseph, Daniel, and Moses. The list goes on and on.
Extraordinary people often do or experience things that nobody else is willing (or able) to do. That is what pushes them to a higher level than everyone else.
Add God to this equation and you get an even more potent recipe for turning tough times into something good.
You, Class of 2020, are special. God designed each one of you for a specific purpose. And now you’ve experienced something that no other class has dealt with. Possibly no other class in the future will experience these things either. How will these extraordinary experiences shape your lives? God only knows. But I believe that the potential for extraordinary greatness has been handed to you disguised as a deadly virus.
It’s not the gift you would request for your eighteenth birthday, but you got it anyway.
And so while I clean my lonely classroom, I mourn the many, many devastating losses of this year. But I also pray that somehow, sometime, the extraordinary experiences of these past few months will result in the emergence of a class of extraordinary people.
God is working in the midst of this mess. Will you trust him? And will you join in the work He is doing to bring His Kingdom to earth?
Class of 2020, go change your world.
Troy Stauffer’s home lies just north of Hershey, PA (the sweetest place on earth). A member of the class of 2011 at Faith Mennonite High School, he has now returned to his alma mater as Mr. Stauffer and teaches some math, science, and phys ed classes. When not grading papers or doing lesson prep, he enjoys sports, videography, strategy games, spending time with friends, singing, and playing piano.