“Choose strength” – Dr. Greene sends note of support to Class of 2020


April 13, 2020
–  What would normally be a time for Prom, Grad Bash, and other senior-year activities has turned into cancellations, and a lot of uncertainty for the Class of 2020.

The disappointment felt by Duval’s seniors is not lost on the school community. In a message to the Class of 2020, Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene shares that she understands their feelings.

In the face of massive disappointment, Dr. Greene encourages seniors to choose strength over despair, hope over fear.

Watch her full video message above and read her personal email to seniors below. Messages of support from school leaders and principals will also be showcased on school and district social media throughout the week.

School community – Please join us in supporting the Class of 2020, letting them know we love them, sharing how proud we are of them and encouraging them to choose strength!

 

Dr. Greene’s email to Class of 2020

Dear Class of 2020,

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing from many of you with good reason. I know you have a lot of questions about the last few months of your senior year. This is why I wanted to write to you, not just as your school district’s superintendent, but as a parent who remembers the joy of having graduating seniors, and as a former student who still remembers the excitement of my own senior year.

First and foremost, I want you to know I understand how hard you have worked to get where you are today. Between exciting events like prom and Grad Bash, your senior year is supposed to be a year to remember as you celebrate almost two decades of growing up, growing smart, and preparing for more independence in the next season of your life. While your senior year will be memorable, it will be for much different reasons than the normal events that you have been working toward since you began school.

Even though I know you recognize the severity of the current health crisis, I am sure you can’t help but feel sadness at missing out on these traditional activities and memories. Believe me – I hear you, and I understand your disappointments. No other graduating class has ever experienced anything like this.

Though we’ve been forced to make some tough decisions in the interest of public health, know that none of what’s happening now can ever take away from who you are and what you’ve accomplished. How we respond in these times matters, and the events that we are facing can either defeat you, or strengthen you. Now is the time to choose strength, and I write this to you from the perspective of one whose path was shaped by disappointments I faced early in life.

When I was your age, I was a track athlete with a college scholarship and gold-medal dreams to compete to go to the Olympics. But in a split second, all of that changed. I hit a hurdle, tumbled awkwardly, and wrecked my knee – an injury from which I would never fully recover.

As I lay in pain on that track, I thought my dream was over.
I was wrong.
It was just beginning.

I am thankful I had mentors who showed me that as painful as my injury was, the real tragedy would have been to let it define me or define my future. People who cared for me told me that this would be one of many tests of faith I would encounter – that I could choose to be defeated by my circumstances or fight for victory. With their help, I was able to fight for a new future and a new vision for myself.

Ultimately, I shifted from sprinting to teaching. I learned my love wasn’t really flying over hurdles. It was children, and students like you. That disappointment – that test – became the most meaningful moment in my life, because it led me on this path here to write a letter to you as the superintendent of one of the nation’s most successful large school districts.

And I want that for each of you – to learn more about yourself from this bizarre experience caused by COVID-19, and emerge from this season with more life vision, ambition, and determination than ever before. You don’t deserve any of this, but remember: This is just one of many tests you will face in adulthood. And I hope that, as the old saying goes, you will allow your test to become your testimony.

We are still holding out hope that we can have graduation as normal. However, if the coronavirus continues to keep us from gathering, we will figure out some creative way to honor and celebrate you. I know that I will never forget the Class of 2020. I’ll never forget the sacrifices you are making to protect the health and safety of many others, and I will always pray that this unfortunate series of events helps shape your vision for your future and becomes a fuel to drive you ambitiously and courageously to those goals. Class of 2020, let’s choose strength.

Kind regards,

Dr. Diana Greene
Superintendent