May 2, 2020
Class of 2020,
Wow… I’m really overwhelmed. Saturday morning, I woke up and started thinking about our event last night. It felt important that I share the thoughts I was having; I’m sure many of you will relate in your own ways.
Yesterday was surreal. We have all settled into this bizarre new normal, and Friday morning felt like that. I answered some emails, had a few phone conversations, but nothing too unusual. A few faculty members planned to meet me at Coronado about noon to start preparing for the celebration. There were signs to hang, ribbons to tie, some technology had to be set up – all pretty normal things for faculty who have made a career out of planning and organizing events like this for our kids. When I left in early afternoon, Mrs. Barlow, Ms. Delgado, Pistole, Dario, and a few custodial staff were still on campus working. The administration planned to meet at 4:30pm to finalize the plan in an admin meeting, to finish hanging signs which had to be delayed because of the wind (StuCo will know the truth when I say it wouldn’t be a spirit day at Coronado if it weren’t windy), and to prepare for the teachers and faculty who would be arriving around 6:00pm to claim their parade spots.
Our administrative team is close. We work together, but I would call us friends as quickly as I would call us colleagues. We have not been in a room together since March 16, approaching 2 months. Yes, we have had Zoom meetings; yes, we have had Google Hangout meetings, but let’s be honest, it’s just not the same. We sat in the Principal’s conference room and worked together for the first time in months. We finished the outline for the event, gave out jobs and locations, grabbed our radios, but more importantly we laughed and talked and smiled and picked up right where we left off. No one did anything special; there was nothing that had to be said. We just started working like we hadn’t been away at all. It felt so good. When we were ready, we all walked outside to finalize the preparations and direct the arriving faculty and staff. Aptly so, our support staff had arrived early to help us prepare for this event – an event with which we had no idea what to expect in terms of turn out.
As the teachers and faculty started arriving and setting up, they were happy. Happy to see our students, to be at Coronado, to see each other (from a generous 20 ft. social distancing), to be a part of the event – they were just happy. Like the admin team, they were together for the first time in months, and they, too, picked up right where they left off. There was no need to work back into it, nothing for anyone to do, just be together. At some point Coach Cooper turned on the football lights and stadium music. Instantly, Coronado felt like Coronado.
We knew we would have students and families come, but certainly there was no expectation of the overwhelming turn out. I walked to the front end of campus by the tennis courts about 7:15pm with the sun setting to our west to get everything started. It was the first time we could see the line of cars and our students – a line I could NOT see the end of. In that moment of complete gratitude, I walked up to the family in the first car, talked through the traffic route to drive, and the family smiled and said, “thank you for doing this,” which I thought was a really kind thing to say given what I was thinking. I responded and said, “Congratulations; we hope you have a great time.”
If I could go back, I wish I would have said what I was thinking, which was, “Thank you so much for coming; thank you for being the best reason to gather us together! The dusty hallways, the weeds in the cracks of the quad, the boxes piling up on the loading dock… none of it matters. When you came back, our school came alive immediately. You are well and healthy and part of us again. You breathe life into Coronado.” The teachers and students and families and friends and our school for a brief moment amidst this health pandemic was everything we hoped it would be. I was so proud of us. Laughing, smiling, waving, sharing… it was all amazing. Picking up where we left off felt so good, and as many of you thanked Coronado, please understand this: we needed you last night as much or more than you needed us. We all needed each other. It was all so perfect.
High school teachers and faculty in every school in America do this work for so many reasons. One of the most rewarding on that list is enjoying the last month of school with seniors. It is an honor; it is magical; it is so unique; there is simply nothing like it. Talking with, enjoying, and watching a graduate at the end of their senior year is selfishly the most joy we get to experience. When the class of 2020 arrived at Coronado with their families, loved ones, friends, and teammates, we, your teachers, coaches, directors, advisors, counselors, administrators and friends, we all celebrated. The class of 2020 deserved this parade and so much more. And for a moment, we all felt like an exhale that has been waiting to happen, so we could breathe and Coronado could live again. It was completely unique and like no event I have ever been a part of. It was really special.
After the teachers left, there were a few of us left closing school down. We walked out together like we normally do. There were no dramatic goodbyes, no sadness; we just left to go home like we would after a football game or band concert. As I was driving home, I was thinking about everything, feeling so good about our school. I am so proud of us, so thankful for us… you should know that’s how we feel. You, our students and families, give us so much. We owe you the same thanks you gave us last night. What we share, together, I appreciate and respect and don’t take for granted. Thank you so much, for everything you do, which makes Coronado, our Coronado.
A final thought. While we are all disappointed that the class of 2020 has not had an opportunity to participate in many of the traditional senior activities our school has traditionally offered. Maybe we are missing an opportunity to think about this differently. The class of 2020 is going to be remembered in ways no other graduating class has ever been remembered. They will be honored in unique ways, recognized in unique ways, and celebrated in unique ways – differently than any other class before them. When this is over and normalcy returns, the Class of 2020 will always have a special significance, historically so, in both our school, our state, and our country. I think this unique status should be celebrating in overcoming adversity, trudging through the unknown, being unafraid of our future, and in proceeding with understanding and empathy. The Class of 2020 will be remembered like no other class before them, which is not only noteworthy, but significant. Our administration wore shirts last night to honor the graduates and class of 2020. There was a two-word phrase at the top:
See you soon,