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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2020 8 months ago

Windermere High School Class of 2020: Unprecedentedly unique

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Although next year’s plans remain unknown, we know we are loved and more than equipped to tackle any obstacle. We are the Class of 2020 — beyond unique. Resilient. Adaptable. Innovative. Grateful.

By Sophie Hadley, SGA president, and Rachel Gross, SGA historian

We were born into the tragedy of 9/11. Security and screenings were normal. We were in fifth grade when the Sandy Hook shooting happened. From then on, classroom doors were required to be locked. That same grade year, we were reminded that terrorism was still very real with the Boston Marathon bombing. We were incoming freshmen when we were hit with the reality that these mass casualties can happen in our own backyard when Pulse Nightclub was attacked. We know and personally felt the seriousness of the phrase “Orlando Strong.” We were sophomores when Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was the next victim of a mass shooting. The Class of 2020 is trained now to send an “I love you” text to their family each time a Code Red is called. We are trained to look for the nearest exits in each crowded place we enter. Lastly, we are graduating in a global pandemic — a time filled with fear of the unknown where the entire world is having to change the way they go about their daily lives.

With all of this being said, we are not defined by these horrific events. We are defined by how we adapted and creatively made the most of every curveball thrown at us.

With every act of violence, students in the Class of 2020 embraced the opportunity to create change. Political advocates. Marches. Student governments taking action. We learned resilience and did not cave when the world seemed so dark. We learned new drills. We became smarter. When our senior year was cut short, we did not let it stop us from bringing the community together. We adapted. We brainstormed ways to get our student bodies involved even if we were all in our own homes. We created e-projects and online talent shows to boost morale. We became even more tech savvy as we had to transition to online learning and became pioneers of “Zoom University.” We became the first class to have virtual graduation. We are the class of unprecedented times, yet we embrace every part of it. 

The Class of 2020 is beyond thankful. We are thankful for the overwhelming support from the community. We have received so much love throughout our schooling and during COVID-19. In all honesty, we are blown away by all of the efforts the cities, states and the country have done to make sure we feel celebrated. Whether it was a school-planned drive-by parade, free Krispy Kreme doughnuts or radio stations hosting a virtual prom, we are blessed. We feel the love the community has shown us, and we will forever be appreciative. With larger concerns in the world, the Class of 2020 is thankful the country has recognized this important time period for us. Our milestones may not look the same, but we feel just as celebrated due to the support from the community. 

Although next year’s plans remain unknown, we know we are loved and more than equipped to tackle any obstacle. We are the Class of 2020 — beyond unique. Resilient. Adaptable. Innovative. Grateful.

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