SALUTE TO JENKS SENIORS: Mayor Lee addresses Class of 2020

SALUTE TO JENKS SENIORS: Mayor Lee addresses Class of 2020

When I think about 2020, two words come to mind: “Unfortunate” and “Uncertain.”

Unfortunate is an understatement. In the midst of a global pandemic, schools have closed. You, the graduating class of 2020, have had to finish your high school career separated from your friends, teachers, and teammates. You’ve missed the prom. You’ve had to forgo your high school graduation— the rite of passage that every graduating class before you was able to enjoy.

2020 has been uncertain, and we can expect it to stay that way. We don’t know how long the virus will stick around. We don’t know when a vaccine will be available. We don’t know when the economy will bounce back, when public events will resume as normal, or when schools will open again. Whether you’re beginning college next year or joining the workforce (or both), it’s not clear what either of those will look like.

You’re entering into an unfortunate and uncertain world, and I am so grateful to have you in it.

That’s because you are needed. There’s no one I’d rather have in this situation than a group of young adults who have just finished their studies in the state’s best school system. You’ve spent the past several years learning from the best and brightest about science, math, history, and the arts. If you’re an athlete, you’ve trained at the highest levels, accomplishing big goals as part of a team.

You, the class of 2020, are uniquely equipped to tackle our problems in the next chapter in your life. And with the flip side of uncertainty being opportunity, you are uniquely positioned to forge a bright future for yourself while you work on the world’s most pressing problems.

Eighteen years ago, I was in your shoes. A few months prior to my high school graduation, the attacks of September 11 had changed the world. It was unclear what the extent of the change would be, but we were right in assuming the world would never be the same. Five years later, months after I graduated college, the economy crashed. I lost my job. I had no choice but to quickly acquire new skills that formed the basis of the career I have now.

It was in this environment that the world as we know it was created. There was a revolution in the way we do business, travel, and interact with each other. The tools that have helped us respond to the current crisis (online commerce and delivery, smart phones, video conferencing, social networks, to name a few) wouldn’t be available without the advances that were made in the shadow of the crises that came before.

It is often through adversity that we do our best work. It focuses the mind on what is most important, on the solutions that are most needed, and on the best ways to get to those solutions.

You’ve been through a lot this year, and it’s helped to prepare you for this moment in history. I look forward to building a better future alongside you, even if we’re six feet apart for now.


Robert Lee, Mayor of Jenks


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