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Jamie Kiel

2020 seniors: history-makers

By Rep. Jamie Kiel

Guest columnist

Calling 2020 memorable is an understatement! Being a member of the class of 2020 will be unforgettable.

The COVID-19 pandemic did to you what it did to our nation: life was put on hold. You missed proms, sporting events, classes – although I’m not sure that “missed” is the correct term here – friends and teachers. Life stopped.

Or did it? You’ve learned a lot over the last two months – lessons that can’t be taught in the classroom. You’ve learned lessons about caring for others by social distancing and staying at home; about the importance of a support group, whether that is the family you are born with or the family that chose you; about who you really are away from school and routine.

You’ve learned to adapt. Your future success will depend largely on your ability to adapt. Change is hard. Forced change is harder. Sometimes you get to choose to change; sometimes coronavirus forces it.

School became different for you compared to anyone else in modern history, with online classes, Zoom, Google Classroom and packets of work.

Some of you became self-starters and worked without someone making you do it. You problemsolved and worked through difficult AP exams and endofyear tests. Some of you discovered you could complete your academics while making an income.

Your willingness to adapt and change in life will often determine how happy you are with your circumstances.

So where do you go from here? It’s your choice.

Make choices … or have them made for you. Choose to change … or be changed.

I know that trying to look into the future 10 or 20 years is next to impossible, but trust me, it is not as far out of sight as you think! You’ve blinked, and high school is over. Blink again, and you’ll be living your life.

Dream BIG! Be a game-changer. Help others and be successful, whatever that looks like in your eyes.

Whatever happens, know that the lessons you’ve learned this year will serve you well from now on.

Congratulations to you for bravely making it through this trying year. You have a lot to look forward to. Don’t let these current circumstances change you. Be the change.

Kiel is a member of the Alabama State House of Representatives and a 1993 graduate of Russellville High School.