To the Graduating Class of 2020,

From the Class of Y2K to the Class of COVID-19 I want you to know that you are greater than the discord, the fear, and the uncertainty that you may feel surrounds you.

We too came into adulthood at a time when society feared collapse. We watched as parents and loved ones discussed the purchase of generators and shelf-stable food should the electrical grid shut down with the dawn of the 21st century. We witnessed as fear drove people to hoard supplies and thus the “doomsday prepper” was born.

From our high school desks, we too watched in awe as a president went through impeachment hearings and were taught to “pay attention to this landmark moment in American history.” We were exposed to the dark side of power at the highest levels that exploit fellow humans for sex. On TV and in the movies, we were promised flying cars, condos on the moon and the end of racism by the year 2000, yet here we are.

The historic moments during the formative years of America’s youth are used to distinguish a generation: The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials ... Sometimes we find ourselves pitted against one another and these titles weaponized as a slur.

But I would like to invite you to instead consider yourselves part of a new generation. A generation that includes all who are willing to participate. A generation of change makers. A generation that refuses to be defined by others, but who instead are defined by their contribution to a better society.

Join the generation of problem solvers, of freedom fighters, of those who value and can empathize with fellow human beings. Join the generation of community builders who work together to make a better neighborhood, town and society. Join the generation who will not be defined by the school shootings, the wars, the impeachments, and racism that they witnessed during their youth. Join us!

Our society did not collapse with Y2K and it won’t with COVID-19. You’ve got this and you’ve got us with you.

So congratulations to the Class of 2020 and my fellow change makers. As we blaze new paths together, let’s not forget to bring each new class along with us.

Crystal Aston

Mount Shasta High School Class of 2000