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A Letter to Seniors From Rabbi Cohen

Today, May 1, marks the end of our 2020 seniors’ high school journey. There’s no doubt they’ve been looking forward to this day for years. Even in 9th grade, middle, or elementary school, who hasn’t thought about their last day of high school?

High school, like many journeys, contains elements we enjoy and throw ourselves into wholeheartedly, and aspects we tolerate or try to avoid. School presents all sorts of challenges. It tries our social tolerance, our ability to get along with others and navigate social intricacies. It tests our will and determination, our ability to be flexible, to accept that subjects that are not our favorite are, nonetheless, important for us to engage in. It provides the opportunity to get to know ourselves academically, intellectually and emotionally. 

Seniors, while the conclusion of your high school careers have not turned out as you might have expected, what you’ve accomplished is no less a great feat. Celebrations will have to wait, meaningful traditions will have to be foregone, but none of this diminishes what you’ve accomplished and who you’ve become. You are smart and funny, compassionate and sensitive, deep and contemplative, silly and lighthearted, clever and inventive, driven and ambitious, principled and persistent. You’ve grown, not in spite of challenges, but because of challenges you’ve faced and the adversities you’ve navigated.

So here we are. Another challenge. Challenges stop us. Give us pause. They test our assumptions, our longing for routine and predictability, our notion that today will be like yesterday and tomorrow like today. 

Class of 2020, you have everything you need, within you. The person you’ve become is just what you need to navigate any challenge – not merely the ACT, SAT, AP, LSAT, MCAT, GRE but the most important assessment of all – the LIFE. A test, you are most prepared for.

Rabbi Cohen