An Open Letter to Belmont’s High School Seniors

Photo: Belmont High School graduation 2019

By Lisa Gibalerio

Dear Seniors:

When the news came down that schools across Massachusetts would not reopen for the rest of the school year, a collective thud of disappointment resounded across town from you and your parents.

The news confirmed what had been feared since schools closed back in March: there will be no spring athletic season, no awards ceremony honoring four grueling years, no prom, no Senior Week activities, and, perhaps most crushing of all, no Field House graduation ceremony and no All Night Party. All time-honored events. All canceled.  

How can you navigate so many losses all at once? 

Your disappointment is real and deserves to be validated. The events you will now forego are hallmarks; they celebrate the culmination of four years of arduous work, of lost sleep, of managing daunting amounts of stress, of sheer perseverance. You have every right to be sad that these events are unlikely to be held, or at least held in the traditional ways.

So go ahead and let yourself grieve; you won’t be grieving alone.

COVID-19 has wreaked devastation across the globe. More than 182,000 people have died, many alone, separated from loved ones, and hooked up to ventilators. The global economy may be careening into a depression unlike anything since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

But here’s the good news: this is a blip.

For sure, it’s big and it’s painful. But the life that lies ahead for each of you is bigger than this crisis. Your life will soon enough be graced once more with joy, with other celebrations, with toasts for goals accomplished, and with high fives for jobs well done.

You are amazing and I am so proud of you – all of you!  You are hard-working, smart, kind, and strong. 

So, take a deep breath and know that this will not be your last disappointment: this will soon become just another chapter in your life.

You’ve lived long enough to know that life is a kaleidoscope, sometimes landing on pain and sometimes on joy and often on just a whole lot of mundane moments. Pause and embrace the good stuff when it comes your way. Take in the beauty of a sunset, a full moon, a perfect daffodil. And go out there and give something of yourself to others. As Barak Obama once said: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something.”

To the Class of 2020: your journey continues. I know you’re up for it. Make us proud. We love you.