Dear students, teachers and school staff ...

BY ANDREW TAYLOR-TROUTMAN, Columnist
Posted 5/26/21

This academic year has been marked by a global pandemic. Yet, as in previous years, you will take end-of-grade tests. I don’t believe this makes any sense.

But I believe in you.

You have had …

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Dear students, teachers and school staff ...

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Students change classes in the hallway of Northwood High School earlier this month. At Chatham County Schools, high schools students could return to four days of in-person learning under Plan A on April 19.
Students change classes in the hallway of Northwood High School earlier this month. At Chatham County Schools, high schools students could return to four days of in-person learning under Plan A on April 19.
Staff photo by Peyton Sickles
Posted

This academic year has been marked by a global pandemic. Yet, as in previous years, you will take end-of-grade tests. I don’t believe this makes any sense.

But I believe in you.

You have had online classes and hybrid classes. You have had to cancel class. But you kept answering the bell.

You have worn masks and kept social distance. But you have remained connected and supported one another.

You and your families have suffered lost jobs and hard times. You have lost loved ones. But you have gained wisdom and compassion.

You will have to take these standardized tests.

But don’t listen to any number on a page or any voice in your head that says you don’t measure up.

Take it from former president Teddy Roosevelt: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Instead of comparison, do the best that is within you, for you are made of the stuff of exploded stars. It’s true! Google it.

Also, look up a picture of Mr. Roosevelt, our 26th president. Amazing walrus moustache.

Thinking of grades, it is unjust that school performance and funding will be tied to these test results. It has been a failure of our society’s moral imagination that we were unable to think beyond standardized testing as a way to measure academic performance in a global pandemic.

But don’t you fail to use your imagination — this is your star power!

Let your imagination guide you to joy. Yes, you have to bubble in the test answers. Then, you can leave the path and skip beneath the trees. You can wade in the creek. You can sing the melody in your head. Make a joyful noise! Read something that will make you smile. Look for messages from the clouds in the sky.

Seek moments that make you exclaim, “Aha!” Ask questions that do not have standardized answers. Move pens and crayons across the paper with gratitude. Whether you know it or not, your courage has left lasting marks on the hearts of those of us who are watching you.

Courage is a word that comes from the Latin for “heart,” and you have put your heart into this year. You have learned lessons of perseverance, flexibility and compassion that will long live and make our world a kinder, more creative, place.

Though we have all been tested by this troubling, tragic year, you have shone like stars in the night sky. And your light will continue to guide us into the future.

Andrew Taylor-Troutman is the pastor of Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church. His forthcoming book is a collection of his columns for the Chatham News + Record titled “Hope Matters: Churchless Sermons.”

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