To My Students On The Final Day of the 2020-2021 School Year: Thank you.

To My Dearest Students,

I began this school year with a letter and I would like to end it with one as well.

Well, here we are. The final day of one very long school year. Before I send you off into this world beyond our classroom, I wanted to take a moment to just let you know a few things.

This year has been something. I think it will be a long while before any of us are really able to fully process all that took place between the start of this school year and the end of it. We are not leaving here unscathed. There are scars that we bear from this year that will take a good long time to heal. And that is okay. Those scars have made us stronger.

You may hear the adults around you talking about what kids have lost this year. They might call it learning loss. They might say things about how behind kids are. They might worry about how you are going to catch up. But, as always, I want you to remember that who you are, right now, in this moment, is exactly enough. And while there are people around you who might want to focus on what you have lost, I want to just remind you of all that you have gained. Of all that you have learned this year.

You have learned to build community, such a beautiful community, while remaining 6 feet apart (well, almost 6 feet apart, almost all of the time). You have learned that community can sustain us through difficult things and it can also amplify the joy that we feel. And, perhaps most importantly, it serves as the foundation upon which we can do the hard work that the world requires of us.

You have learned to better understand who you each are and how your identity impacts the way you move through this world. You have learned that who you are is a complex mixture of beautiful things and if the world does not see that and does not make space for you, it is because there is something wrong with this world and not something wrong with you.

You have learned to better understand others and who they are and understand that who they are impacts the way that they move through this world. You have learned to see people for who they show you that they are and not who you assume for them to be. You have learned to listen to their stories and to know them through their stories and you have learned that true connection and understanding is built upon this story sharing.

You have learned to see not only the beauty in the world, but the parts that are ugly so that you can work to fix them and make them better. You have learned how to read in a way that will allow you better understand the things that feel wrong and broken and you have learned to use your voice and your writing to ask for the changes that you want to see in this world.

You have learned to be inspired by those doing the work around you. You have learned to look not only to those who are in the spotlight, but to those who are in the margins and behind the scenes and on the sidelines and in all the places that power and privilege leave in the dark. You have learned that those are the places where some of the strongest fighters for change are grown. And you have learned how to learn from them.

You have learned ways to work to see the world more accurately and to better understand the world around you even when the world around you continues to make so little sense. You have learned to ask questions and seek answers and not to just accept what you are being told or what you are not being told. And this has navigated you through some difficult moments this year in a way that has brought you closer to some kind of truth.

There are just so many things that you have learned and I want you to know that I have been there, this whole time, learning right alongside you. And I have learned so very much from you as well. It has been an absolute privilege, gift and honor to have been your teacher this year.

There has been so much darkness in this world during this school year and you all have been the bright spots of light for me in so many ways, on so many days. You have given me hope when the world has seemed hopeless. You have given me joy when the world has seemed joyless. You have reminded me to laugh and to move forward and to question and to seek out information and to always, always, always, imagine ways that this world can be better.

So please know that while our school year ends today, our journey together certainly does not. Because each one of you is leaving behind so many lessons that you have taught me and I will continue to carry those with me for a very long time. You all have changed me and made me better and the effects of that will continue in immeasurable ways.

And though I would like to keep you here with me longer, I know that I must share you with the world. Because there are so many things that need fixing out there and I know that you are ready to do just that.

Thank you for this year. I love you.

Ms. Lifshitz

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