To the Graduating Seniors of the Class of 2020:
First, I want to congratulate you. You have put in the hard work, dedication and tireless effort to reach this important milestone in your life. Many people will tell you that these are the best years of your life. In many respects, they are right. The lessons you have learned to this point, the friends you have made and the journeys you have experienced will stay with you forever.
However, this is not the end. I challenge each of you to continue to learn about the world, seek knowledge and make connections with people as you begin the next chapter of your life.
As the first graduating class in my tenure as the Superintendent of Fulton County Schools, you will always hold a special place in my heart. I am profoundly saddened that these unprecedented circumstances have taken away opportunities to experience so many of the cherished moments associated with your senior year. Know that the decisions made during this extraordinary crisis were made to ensure your continued safety and well-being as well as that of your families, friends and your teachers. We have learned much and will continue to understand more about how we manage situations like this as we continue navigating through this crisis. Fortunately, despite the grim circumstances, you have continued to provide a shining light that motivates all of us to demonstrate empathy, poise and positivity in the face of adversity.
Due to the level of risk and uncertainty at this point, I have asked principals to begin consulting with members of the Class of 2020 regarding alternate plans for this year’s graduation ceremonies. More specifically, I have asked principals to begin making plans for a modified ceremony to be held at your high school. This might include a blend of virtual and in-person participation while adhering to social distancing requirements or it could be more of a virtual non-traditional ceremony. While our plans for a normal conclusion to the school year have come to a halt, I call on you and your collective wisdom to devise solutions that allow us to replace traditional ceremonies with new ways to honor you in the manner of which you are deserving. I ask you to reach out to your friends, classmates and school leaders to develop inventive approaches to graduation that will both pay tribute to you and prioritize everyone’s safety.
Now, more than ever, I ask that you come together to define your legacy. Show our district, state, nation and the world how special you are by leaning-in and helping us find a solution. In order to facilitate and support your planning, I am making Friday May 1, 2020 the last official day of school for graduation-eligible seniors.
Dr. Mike Looney
Superintendent, Fulton County Schools