To Aidan, Ben, Thomas, Sam, Claire, Michael, Rachel, Aidan, Christian, Landry, John, Katie, Allie, Jacob, Journey, and the rest of the Class of 2020:
You made it! Not as you imagined, or intended, but made it nonetheless. You have done incredible things as young people in this community – Eagle Scout projects, youth Sunday sermons, choir solos, Camp Barnabas weeks, mission trips, transformative leadership of others, and transformation of yourself. It has been a gift to spend the last four years alongside you — your whole high school careers!
You have taught, inspired, and challenged all the teenagers younger than you, and many of the adults older than you. You are brilliant, resilient, compassionate models of what it means to be God’s people in the world, and we are all better off for having had each and every one of you as part of this community.
You’ve missed out on so much, but there has still been so much that was good and real and important and, at the very least, unforgettable in these past four years: Aidan Bond and I walking laps around a mission trip worksite in Memphis; Ben Fletcher cracking up our worksite in Baton Rouge; Sam Keenan climbing inside a refrigerator and wearing 15 hats at once at Revolution Weekend; Claire Kirk making a whole Luna Lovegood costume for a Christmas Party; Rachel Muttiah and I crying together at Camp Barnabas; endless games of basketball in the Justin between Aidan and Christian Muttiah and the honorary fourth triplet, Thomas Jolin, Katie’s youth Sunday sermon, and incredible lip-sync performance, watching Jacob Williams and his “cousin” (i.e. alter-ego) “Tyrone Smooothe” lead a free style rap contest, the day Journey told me he had gotten into his dream school, and of course that time Landry ate a whole raw onion like an apple (… OK, it was two times).
I am so, so grateful to have gotten this time with all of you. To have gotten to watch you begin to reveal the people you will become. You, as a class, have pushed me to think deeper, work harder, and go farther than any I’ve worked with before, and you have reciprocated by being some of the brightest, bravest, funniest teenagers I’ve ever met. You’re fiery, wicked smart, unwilling to compromise on things that matter, and total chaos – in short, all of the things that made me fall in love with working with teenagers in the first place.
There is so much more I could say, novels to be written about each and every one of you. You have so many incredible gifts to offer the world. You have a voice that is unbelievably valuable. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish. The story is just beginning, and I am so incredibly confident that the best is yet to come.