HAYMARKET, VA — Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, everyone, including high school students, have wondered whether the world will ever return to normal. In her high school graduation speech submitted to Sen. Tim Kaine, Julia Hyde, a graduating senior at Battlefield High School in Haymarket, wonders whether life was ever normal for the Class of 2020.
In their freshman year, one of the most divisive presidential elections in U.S. history determined the class members' high school experience, Julia says in her speech. During their sophomore year, members of the Class of 2020 watched as fellow students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were gunned down.
"We have grown up with school shootings, shooting threats and lockdown drills. Yet, this time children our age fought back, protested and became activists," Julia says. "That is when we realized we weren't exactly children anymore."
After they made it to their senior year and submitted college applications last fall, their second semester was taken from them due to the coronavirus.
Julia's speech is one of the top speeches submitted by high school students across Virginia that Kaine has posted on his Facebook page and website. The Virginia senator posted Julia's on Monday. Kaine will be posting one high school senior's speech each day through the end of June.
With many in-person high school graduations postponed or canceled due to the coronavirus, Kaine encouraged Virginia's graduating high school seniors to submit a video of an original speech they would like to give at graduation.
Kaine said he felt a sense of loss for the graduates and wanted to give all high school seniors in Virginia the chance to be a graduation speaker.
"One of the many groups of Virginians I've been thinking about during this challenging time is the graduates of the class of 2020, many of whom won't have the graduation experience they've been planning for a long time," Kaine said in a statement.
Over the past few months, Julia says, she and her classmates have learned how to persevere.
"We learned from the resilience of the people around us in this unprecedented, crazy time," she says. "Most of all, we learned not to take things for granted. And because of that, our class will be the most resilient, the most loving and the most compassionate class in memory."