A Note To Seniors and Parents from a High School Principal

In full disclosure, I wanted to share a conversation I had with my senior daughter because I feel like many of us (parents included) may be feeling and dealing the same thing. The magnitude of losing many components of this year “hit” my senior (and me) the other day. My daughter seemed to be in a mood – short-tempered, sad, angry, frustrated. When we got down to it, she shared how she was struggling with the uncertainty and unknown of this situation. She felt “ripped off” of her senior year and also shared that, at the same time, she felt guilty about her feelings knowing that so many other people around the world are hurting in many different ways for many different reasons.

My response to my daughter was what I would tell any member of the class of 2020: You have every right to be upset, every right to be angry, and every right to feel ripped off.

We both began to cry and attempted to sort out the wealth of emotions we were dealing with. We talked about this situation being an unprecedented world event that will have consequences and impacts that are long-term and unknown. As a parent, I hated not having all the answers and not being able to say the right thing. As the tears dried, we talked about what we are in control of and how we have a choice as to the attitude we bring and how we respond to this or any other challenge we will face in life.

While we talked, I couldn’t erase the kindergarten image of my daughter from my mind. (Parents: you know that image that we can all easily pull up in our head of our kid’s first day of school? The look of nervous excitement our little punks had as they took their first steps into the unknown.) Fast forward to over 13 years later and here we are, at the sunset of our senior’s preparatory education. Similar to kindergarten, our young adults have to take another leap of faith into a different unknown.  The class of 2020 didn’t choose to be a part of what will become a significant hashmark on the world’s historical timeline. This unwanted and unwarranted bookmark will, in time, be viewed as a moment where the class of 2020 had to make a choice about what kind of attitude and how they respond to a difficult situation. As the LBHS principal and, more importantly, a parent, I have every confidence and faith in our class of 2020. They are intelligent, they are sensitive, they are caring, they are resilient they are capable and competent. It is my contention that if the nation’s class of 2020 is anything like the LBHS class of 2020, they WILL BE a positive mark in history during a window of time that held its challenges.

Seniors: I miss you. I miss smiles in the halls, lunchtime shenanigans, the sprints after the tardy bell. I miss classroom visits, the athletic events…everything. Please know that we will continue to explore ways to appropriately and safely honor you and your accomplishments to the best of our ability. Thank you for your unanticipated sacrifices and for staying the course and being great role models for the classes behind you.

 Jason Allemann, Ed.D. is an educator with over 20 years of administrative experience. His work in three southern California districts has always focused on student voice and advocacy, building positive campus cultures among students and teachers, and creating collaborative environments to work and learn in. As the current principal of Laguna Beach High School, he and his team are 2-year participants of the Challenge Success School Program and use its guiding principles to drive transformative approaches to the high school experience.