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To the Class of 2020:

Each graduating class likes to think they are different from all the rest. That their experience is somehow new and unique. If any group in recent memory can lay claim to that designation, it would certainly be yours.

The last nine weeks of your senior year have been marked by the loss of treasured traditions and long-anticipated gatherings and by unforeseen sacrifices. For having to experience those losses, I am deeply sorry. However, my hope for you is that the memories of what you have lost will instill in you a heightened awareness of the value of all that you have had, all that you are, and all that lies in front of you.

When you left school March 12, you could not have known that would be the last time you would walk the halls of Randolph-Henry as a student. I hope that the memory of that will serve as a reminder to you to value each moment as if it were a “last,” because many of them are. Just as your parents did not know when your many “lasts” (last bedtime story, last “I love you, Mommy”) would be, you will have no idea when a moment will be the last, or only, of its kind. I hope that this experience reminds you to cherish every moment, every experience, every encounter as if it were a “last” and to see the value in all that happens to you.

I hope that you will value the process as much as the prize. Many of you missed out on some of the finales in your academic, athletic, and artistic pursuits and may not feel as if you reached the culmination of all you had worked for. However, while there is considerable value in the completion of goals, there is also value in the process of working towards those goals. The practices and the preparations, the failures and recoveries, the lessons and sacrifices all have value independent of the final outcome. They are among the things that have helped shape who you are. Value the steps towards the goals as much as the goals themselves.

Finally, I hope that the unwelcomed social distance that has marred the end of your senior year will serve as a reminder of the value found in each other. In an age when personal communication is constantly at our disposal, we often miss the truly meaningful moments. These are not the texts or the memes that we have come to view as “being there.” The meaningful moments are the ones born of attention and sacrifice. They are unexpected visits with your grandparents, the friend’s birthday you drove three hours to attend, or the times you showed up to help even when no one asked. These opportunities to “be there” have been limited in recent weeks, but be sure to take advantage of them as soon as you are able because they may not always be available (see my first point).

As you finish your high school careers, I hope you know how much we value you. Like you, we did not know that our final moments with you would truly be our last, but as we look back at the past four years, the postponement of the finale in no way diminishes the value of the process that we have experienced with you or the brightness of the future that lies ahead.

Thank you for all that you have brought to Randolph-Henry High. On behalf of Charlotte County Public Schools and the faculty and staff of Randolph-Henry High School, I congratulate each of you. Good luck and much love from your Charlotte County family.

Dr. Scott “Shep” Critzer is director of student services at Charlotte County Public Schools. His email address is critzerss@ccps.k12. va.us.