CHALMETTE, La. — High school seniors are just months away from graduating, but their final semester is full of cancellations and questions after the coronavirus forced the state to shut down all schools for at least a month.
“This is supposed to be your year,” Louisiana Teacher of the Year, Chris Dier said in an open letter to high school seniors. “This was the year that your entire school was building up to, but it was robbed from you because of this global pandemic.”
Dier teachers social studies at Chalmette High School.
“It kind of broke my heart to see things unraveling so quickly,” Dier said. “People were looking for something, some kind of hope in these times.”
He wrote an online, open letter to all high school seniors. It already has more than one million hits and is being shared across the globe.
Many of his own students had questions and went to him for advice, which is why he decided to share his thoughts with them all.
“It’s like, what are we supposed to do?” Chalmette High senior Grace Bartholomae questioned along with her friends.
They are like others across the country. They’re likely missing prom, their senior trip and possibly graduation.
“We make jokes that we’re going to have graduation on a Skype call,” Chalmette senior Jenna Riess laughed.
Chalmette High seniors had a trip planned to Disney.
“It’s like the last experience you get with your friends,” Chalmette senior Chance Beck said
This is all happening while they’re trying to plan for a life after high school. Many are going to college, but even that goal now is more challenging.
“Orientation is May 28,” Beck said. “How are we going to do things like that.”
COVID-19 changed all those plans. Now, some universities have created virtual experiences since student’s can’t visit.
For Louisiana seniors, the last ACT test to qualify for Louisiana’s scholarship program, TOPS, was supposed to be in April. There are efforts now to push it back so seniors can take the test in June and still qualify.
In Dier’s letter he wrote, “I know what this is like. I feel your pain, it stings.”
He gets it more than they know. His senior year was during Hurricane Katrina. Living in St. Bernard, his home flooded. His senior year was not what he expected either.
“There is no global pandemic strong enough to dent your passion,” he said in his letter.
While it may not be what they envisioned, Dier wants all high school seniors across the world to know there is hope and like he did, they can get through it.
Read Dier's letter HERE.