You don’t need me to tell you that this year has been immeasurably hard. But, just in case no one has told you recently, this year has been immeasurably hard. There is good reason to be tired, good reason to feel frustrated, good reason to feel like you struggled this year in school, in your friendships, in life.

So, I want to thank you. Thank you for everything you have done this year, for every bit of patience and resolve you’ve shown, for all the new skills and strengths you found in a year unlike anything any of us have ever done. Thank you.

For some of you, simply being here at all is testament to your victory over some monumental challenges. You may not have completed every assignment or aced every test or made it to every Google Meet, but you’re here, you’re still here, and that’s really all that matters. I’m so glad you’re here, so thankful to have you.

For others, it has been a year that you have found your voices, or have continued to use them to help make our school and world better. I am thankful, overwhelmed with gratefulness, for the students in our building who have found space and energy to be creative, subversive, revolutionary.

You built this student paper and shared perspectives on art and news, advocated for student rights and exemplified the power of student speech. You campaigned for a safer and more welcoming school for transgender students. You organized and mobilized against racism. You walked out, you spoke up, you wrapped your arms around each other in the face of a world that was pulling you down.

You did loud and big things, and I promise we heard you. You did quiet things, did projects and essays and discussions and art, and I promise we were inspired by you.

Students; thank you for this year, for everything you gave this year. I hope you get the summer of rest, recovery, and joy that you have so thoroughly earned.

Author of ‘It Won’t Be Easy.’ and ‘Raising Ollie’ 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. @mrtomrad on everything.