Greenwich Schools Superintendent, BOE Chair Letter on GHS Class of 2020 Graduation

By Dr. Toni Jones, Superintendent & Mr. Peter Bernstein, Chair of the Board of Education

We recognize this year did not exactly end the way they wanted. Events were missed, opportunities to be together were lost. Rather than focus on the negative, let’s focus on the positives that our students have learned about themselves and how they will come out stronger from this.

The Greenwich High School Class of 2020 can bold the traits resilient, community-oriented and agile in their resumes. We knew each of these graduating students possessed these traits, as it’s our hope to instill the importance of these qualities in our students as they make their way
through our Greenwich Public Schools.

However, with a global pandemic bringing much of the world to a halt, these students persevered and capped their academic time at Greenwich Public Schools showing just how strong, smart, adaptive and charitable they are.

Let’s start with resilience. These students had an ending to their time at GHS unlike any graduating class before them. Classes were done virtually and at a distance, sports were canceled, student activities and extracurriculars were halted, and yet these students persevered. They stayed engaged with learning. They took Advanced Placement exams digitally, they competed in state and national academic championships virtually, they practiced and checked-in with their teammates over video; they ultimately set the tone that a campus is just a campus, and that it’s the students, teachers and collective culture that make a school a community. This level of resilience that they showed during their final semester will serve them well as they embark in higher education, the working world or whatever the future has in store for them.

Now on to community-oriented. They say that in times of crisis you will see the best or the worst in people. For our GHS students and the senior class, we saw the best. We had high school students step-up to run errands for senior citizens around town and volunteer in different ways within our community. Additionally, many of our students have also been working in essential jobs in the community, whether it’s working at a retail store making food available or caring for their siblings. These students have set an example for so many of us that giving back and getting involved, especially in the most challenging of times, has a profound and lasting impact on our community. We are so proud of the work that these students have done and will continue to do.

And finally, agile. This graduating class went to school for a half day on Wednesday, March 11th – what they thought would be a regular half day for their teacher’s Professional Development. Beginning the next day and through the rest of their academic careers at Greenwich High School, they would pursue distance learning. It was a new venture for all of them — students and teachers alike — but together they adapted … they learned together, they grew and they finished their senior years on a strong note. It can’t be overstated how important it is to be flexible and adaptable in life. It’ll make these students ready to take on any scenarioand operate well even in the most challenging and unknown of times.

Whatever their plans are for the future, we want them to take these lessons forward with them in life. As it says in the Vision of the Graduate: “Respond to failures and successes with reflection and resilience.”

We hope that our students will look back fondly over their entire experience in the Greenwich Public Schools, and remember that their full experience means much more than just the past few months. Wherever they go, they are prepared for life beyond our doors.