Dear seniors: high school counselor pens inspirational note

What a difference a week makes. The world seems like a different place, and we are all affected in many ways. For high school seniors, it’s an especially tough time — the work they’ve put in for 13 or more years is almost done, and they might not even get the chance to walk the school halls or see their classmates or teachers again in that setting. At this point, who even knows if they’ll have an official graduation ceremony.

Teachers and administrators across Birmingham and Alabama have done a tremendous job in the face of overnight uncertainty, helping their students through remote learning, Facebook Live videos, and more.

Tracy Prater, a college and career counselor at Spain Park High School in Hoover, penned a letter to the seniors at his school. These are students he and other counselors have worked closely with as they near their graduation, advising them on their next steps…college, workforce training, or other options. They’re meeting these seniors’ needs in so many ways, including helping them cope with this sudden uncertainty.

Read his letter below.


While it may seem dramatic or small in light of the current crisis, I want you to know that you are seen. Students at your place in life are asked to straddle the line between the adult and the minor world on a daily basis. We ask you tiny little questions like, “what do you want to do with the rest of your life?– how do you plan to pay $XX,000/yr. for your education?– are you sure this is the next right step for accomplishing your longterm goal?– is this place you’ve never been a good fit for you?– do you want to go to college?–do you need to go to college to accomplish your goals?– do you understand the wording in your admission/financial aid offer?–etc…” On top of all of this, we tell you to “grow-up” and stop being so self-absorbed all the while we organize events that contribute to you being self-absorbed.

Well, now your time has finally come and we all saw it coming. What we didn’t see coming was a global pandemic. This public health crisis has rocked what little bit of normal expectations you have been clinging to for most of your life. This is supposed to be your year! Now, one more thing seems to be spinning out of control and threatening to steal your year from you. Meanwhile, people like myself and your teachers who really want to fix it, or at the very least help you through it, are trying our best to wrap our heads around it as well. There is so much unknown to deal with, and that puts everyone on edge. Long story short, this is a mess. It hurts me for you all. You are in my constant thoughts and prayers. You are not silly for being sad, disappointed, worried, or even grieving. Be sad, be disappointed, grieve, but try not to worry.

You guys are smart. You are part of what will likely be our nation’s most educated generation. I see it in you every day. You will get through this, and in many ways, you’ll be better for it. However, that doesn’t change the right here right now. Your lives are being dramatically changed a bit earlier than you were expecting. Things that were “sure things” are now “works in progress.” All of this causes anxiety. It’s hard, but you will do this! I am looking forward to the ways that you will all impress us with the grace and resiliency you have faced this challenge. You are forever the Class of 2020! It looks different for you, but you wear it well! Go Jags!

With love and pride,

Letter shared on Hoover City Schools’ Facebook page

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