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Revisiting the wise words of the Class of 2020 | Teachers' Lounge Classic

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Spencer Tritt
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Dear Class of 2020

This week on the show, we’re revisiting a Teachers’ Lounge Classic. Don’t worry, we’ll be back with a brand-new episode next week.

For now, think back to the spring of 2020. So much uncertainty, so much fear of what the future would hold. Schools shut down and students started learning from home.

“We were trying to put the plane together while it was in the air” was how I heard it described by so many educators about that time. And we felt so bad for those students who had the end of their senior year robbed from them. We did a show called “Dear Class of 2020” where we gave a platform and an audience to high school valedictorians who would never get their graduation ceremony and never give their speeches to a crowd full of their friends and family.

I wanted to reflect back on those speeches now as we near what will be the 4th school year impacted by the pandemic. I’m not sure how much COVID will impact the next school year, but it’s absolutely still a factor. Those 2020 high school seniors will be juniors in college now. Kids who were in 1st grade in 2020 are now in 4th grade. Next year’s high school seniors had their freshman year cut short. It’s been all-consuming. Some entire high school and college experiences WITHOUT a “normal” year.

I think we owe it to them to celebrate their resilience and successes and also mourn what so many have lost over the past few years. These speeches are full of hope and optimism, even in the face of a future that looked completely uncertain at best and pretty grim at worst. It’s a feeling a lot of people still feel. But, these students' words were inspiring and wise beyond their years. And I’m happy to bring them back into your podcast feeds. I hope they’re all still feeling as hopeful as they were then.

The Class of 2020 valedictorians are:

Xavior Hutsell of Roosevelt High School in Rockford

Nina Mitchell of DeKalb High School

Ashley Althaus of Amboy High School

And, finally, Tessa Harbecke or Sycamore High School

Long live the Class of 2020.

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SHOW NOTES

Music:

Our show's theme music is from the northern Illinois-based band "Kindoves" and their songs "Popn," "Origins" and "Quiche." You can find more of their music on their Soundcloud page. You can also listen to the episode of WNIJ's own Sessions from Studio A where they were featured.

Teachers! People who know teachers! People with stories about teachers! Send us an email and be part of the show! Also, send us your topic recommendations: teacherslounge@niu.edu

Peter joins WNIJ as a graduate of North Central College. He is a native of Sandwich, Illinois.