he Class of 2020 will long be remembered for its resilience and perseverance. Born in the immediate aftermath of the tragic September 11, 2001, attack, their lives have been marked by difficult events. In their formative elementary years these students and their families lived through the global financial crisis of 2008. Now, as they ready themselves to leave high school and enter the next phase of their lives, these students are navigating a global pandemic as it interrupts their final moments of high school, typically a celebratory time for all. While living through so much could cause anyone to become a pessimist, my experiences with the Class of 2020 indicate just the opposite.
Upon entering high school, this group of students fully committed themselves to their studies and the pursuit of knowledge. The class has 22 students who earned either Commended or Semi-Finalist status in the National Merit Scholarship competition. These students have spent four years dedicating long hours to practicing and refining their artistic and athletic pursuits. They dazzled on the stage in performances of The Pajama Game, Annie, and The Sound of Music and they triumphed on the athletic fields, capturing 13 WPIAL or PIAA individual and team championships. They have initiated movements, campaigns, and events to raise important social issues and to find ways to support those in need. In total, this class volunteered for an astonishing 23,937 hours over four years. In all of these efforts these students have experienced moments of hardship and difficulty, but time and again they have stood steadfast in their optimism and resolve for better. They get up, dust themselves off, and continue to push forward, all along learning and improving.
As their acting principal, I can say without question that these students are ready. They are ready to conquer the many challenges that lie ahead. They are ready to commit many hours to studying and researching techniques to combat future illnesses. They are ready to experience setbacks and learn from mistakes to find solutions to our most difficult problems. And, they are ready to turn their palpable optimism into reality, making the world a better place for all of us by helping those in need.
This class is special, not for what they have experienced, but for how they have responded to it all. When, inevitably, future events beyond our individual control become worrisome, be optimistic, because the Class of 2020 will be out there working hard to solve them.
Congratulations to the Mt. Lebanon Class of 2020! I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors.
-Joel Thompson, Acting Principal, Mt. Lebanon High School