We make good kids better.

To Our Graduating Seniors

Senior Year.

A year to remember.

A year of football Fridays and final exams, of accomplishments and celebrations, of both reflection and anticipation.

For the graduating class of 2020, this is was the expectation as they walked through those high school doors on day one. But they were in no way prepared for the startling reality that would put a swift end to their senior year dreams.

Our seniors may have had the chance to experience much of their last year together, but the final few months of high school hold so much excitement and possibility: athletic competitions, award ceremonies, performances, prom, and the ultimate celebration of their accomplishments – graduation. These experiences often create lasting impressions, permanent memories branded in our mental high school scrapbook. And for the class of 2020, they’re left to rewrite the conclusion of their final year without these special moments.

For some, this disheartening end to their final high school year is more than just an inconvenience; it’s a kind of disappointment that lingers and overwhelms their ability to cope. The significance of this year and the opportunities that still remained were so valuable that for some, acceptance and moving forward feels impossible.

And for the families of this class who have encouraged and planned and anticipated with their seniors all along, this is a difficult heartache to assume. To confront their own feelings of grief as they reflect on the endless nights of homework assignments and sports practices and play rehearsals that led up to this moment, and to support and reassure their children through their experience of sadness – it’s a bit unbearable.

This, on top of the fear and anxieties we’re all battling as a community in the face of a global pandemic. This is hard. And it’s stressful. And it’s nothing we’d ever prepared for. And when it comes to our mental health and wellbeing, it’s important to acknowledge our thoughts and our emotions for all that they are – the good ones, the hard ones, the daunting and unfamiliar ones. They’re all worthy of our recognition, and they’re all vital to our ability to face our challenges and accept our reality.

To our seniors, we see you. We see you missing out on the fun and exciting experiences that make senior year so special. We see you missing out on time with your friends in and after school, soaking up the last bit of time together before you go your separate ways. We see you missing out on that big day – walking the stage with your peers, shaking your principal’s hand and throwing your cap in honor of all that you’ve achieved. (And not even getting a party to celebrate it.) We know how hard it must be to cope with these losses, to think of all the things you’re missing out on that you’ll never get back. And whether you’re angry or sad or scared or unsure – we see you, and we’re here for you.

To our families who are struggling to find the right words to say, to manage your own stress and sorrow and still be there for your children – we see you, too. This is not an easy time to navigate, and it is certainly not one that comes with a blueprint for what to do and how to do it. You are doing your best. Your struggle is real, and we are here for you, too.

It’s important to remember that while we all experience trauma in our own ways, we are, in fact, in this together. We may be at a distance, but we are closer and more connected than we’ve ever been. And that is something to acknowledge.

As we approach graduation season, our message is this – “To the class of 2020, you have demonstrated unimaginable resilience, tenacity and grace. To our teachers, your love and support will be remembered for a lifetime. Together, we have stayed brave and vulnerable and connected during this time of uncertainty. We are proud beyond measure.” – Susan Lewis Kaylor, President & CEO of St. Vincent Family Center.

If you or someone you know might benefit from confidential, emotional support from a health professional, our experts are here for you. Call St. Vincent Family Center’s free, no-commitment Warm Line at (614) 358-6400, Monday-Friday 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM.

If you’re interested in behavioral health services to address your child or family’s mental health needs, our healthcare team is available by phone at (614) 824-KIDS (5437) or online at www.svfc.org/get-help-now.