A letter to the class of ’23

Dear class of 2023,

Congratulations on completing your public-school career! Like most adults at some point, you are now faced with the daunting yet promising challenge of a career change. Woohoo! You’ve spent your last year or more planning ahead, deciding what avenue you’ll explore next, and while most of you are going to college, some also plan on exploring different paths. Academic or otherwise, it has been a pleasure to see you all pursuing passions that pique your ponderous propensities.

Although luxurious lounging in the languid liquid of lost time left you all marinating in boredom, while a stew of virtual classrooms failed to feed your appetite, you remain hungry. Although the outside world continues to cry out, outraged at overwhelmingly overt oppression, while obstinate opponents refuse to offer opportunities for change, you remain determined. Although antagonistic actors armed with apathy appear all-around, while admonishing acts of amenity and applauding acts of aggression, another alternative aggregate assembles, you remain unified.

Though times have been and will be tough, though friends have formed and fallen out,
remember those who brought you here, remember those who guide you. Many more, though yet to come, will introduce and plant themselves as green leaves grow, as roots connect, as roses, tulips, orchids bloom. Take care of them and let them grow. Let them blossom. Let them show. And when the winter chill comes in, to freeze and petrify within, trust in time from thaw to glow, and say to winter, “let it snow!”

I wish you all the best in your endeavors yet to come. Whether near or far, selfish or social, logical or sensational, I am excited to see what you choose to pursue, where you choose to end up, and who you choose to share it with. As you enter a new environment, I encourage you to stay open-minded with a critical lens. You’ve gotten more benefit than you can admit, for you’ve yet to realize what others have missed. In college, and in workplaces across the country, you will hear stories about others’ high school experiences. At first, of course, you’ll find comradery in going through the American education system, but more importantly after that, you’ll start to gain perspective: most high schools cannot afford students the intra and extracurricular opportunities you have received. Most high schools cannot afford students the freedom to choose from dozens of elective and college courses. Most high schools cannot afford to keep their buildings well-maintained. If you’ve ever thought WJ is poorly maintained, then you might be surprised that most high schools are in worse conditions. But complacency is not the answer. Reality is sometimes unsavory, but if ignored then bitterness will grow. It takes courage to confront the unpleasantries of your reality; fear is hatred’s closest friend. Find confidence in who you are as well as who you want to be. Find confidence in the relationships you’ve built as well as those you haven’t yet. Find confidence in what you’ve experienced as well as that which you have yet to. Trust that, even when you feel it lacking, confidence is there to find – reach out to each other, listen closely to what you hear, and find it as it’s always been, as confidence resides within.

All the best,
Mr. Zeitlin