To my son, his classmates and peers;
As you may know, your school is in danger of closing sooner than we thought. The very real possibility of losing RHS 9-12 for this (2017-18) school year is upon us and we (parents, community members and your teachers) along with you are scared and apprehensive to say the least. As frightening as this seems, it would also bring with it exciting and new possibilities, let’s remind ourselves of this often.
I want to express my apologies to you all, as we adults have failed you somehow. Act 46 came to be and without meaning to, we let you all down. Our protective little valley that has been a home to us has been torn apart as the elected officials and voters alike have tried their best to seek a solution befitting everyone.
Here we are, not able to offer you comfort or even certainty. I feel as though we’ve neglected you and forgot that we are supposed to protect you and let you know that you do matter. Your school, your home away from home is being seized and you have no power over the decisions that affect you most. I am so sorry.
I know you have made plans for the last year at RHS. A combined end-of-year trip, the last prom, graduation, so many lasts. All taken from you and who is explaining this to you? I’m sorry. We dropped the ball and have neglected you. Your voices matter, your feelings are just. I’m sorry we’ve not allowed a place for you to share them.
It looks as though our little valley has run out of hope and options simultaneously. Again, I’m sorry. Those with a voice and in a position of power have attempted to find a way around this but it has been found to be a near impossible situation. I think I can speak for many when I say, we’re sorry.
I want to tell you that it is all going to be okay, because it will. That in no way is said to minimize the blow this will feel like to you. Your worlds will be rocked, but you will bounce. I promise. In five years you will look back and see that although this time was sad and unforeseen, you survived and even persevered. Some of you may be grateful for the change, some resentful, some terrified. There are no wrong ways to feel. You will miss some classmates, some teachers and most definitely the familiarity your home-town provides. Still, you’ll be okay.
I am not one to embrace change. I find the most comfort in stable, predictable environments. I feel your pain. I feel your angst and disappointment. I urge you all to recall that uneasy feeling you may have had embarking on middle-school, heading into the unknown. This is similar, you survived then as you will now. These last years of high-school are merely a blip in your lives. The stress and anxieties that come with being 16/17 will soon be traded in for college/life-bound jitters and today will be a distant memory. I encourage you to embrace this change, seek out all you can from it. Find new friends and make new memories. Decide that this doesn’t define you and only offers you new ways to become a stronger, more versatile you.
I ask you to forgive your elders for losing sight of you along our way. I feel that in the heated exchanges, moments of panic and planning, you were overlooked and your opinions possibly undervalued. As we move forward and find our paths, remember where you came from and what you were a part of. Rochester school was more than a school, it was a family. You were a part of that, the biggest part.
Thank you for being the kind of young people we are proud to call ours. You have all been remarkable in countless ways. Your kindness and acceptance of others makes us as a community so very proud. Remember also and lastly that this valley who has loved, nurtured, educated and protected you still does, and we will be cheering you on as you move down that road to your future.