To the superintendent, the principal, administrative staff, faculty, parents, friends and last but not least, the Dollarway High School Cardinals Graduating Class of 2020:

I remember how I looked forward to coming to school every day just to see everyone’s faces and enjoy the time of learning, laughing with friends, and the events or assembles we’d have. After middle school, we were super excited to make it to high school — the better dress codes, bigger campus, the well-known gym and football field. We were sure in for a treat.

Instead of us going to high school, high school came to us — same place, same dress codes, just different staff. The entire hype and difficult transition of living the high school life died down. It is true that the class of 2020 has been at the same school for 7 years, which made the journey feel longer than in actuality.

But, there is one special person that has been there throughout the entire time. Mrs. Prim has been our principal since elementary and transitioned with us from middle to high school. I’m very thankful for her leading us all this way.

Dollarway’s class of 2020 is unique and has been gifted with many opportunities during this final year of high school. Some athletes were signed to their dream colleges. Students were recruited into the military. Others are future nurses, teachers, therapists, engineers, lawyers, and social workers. We could really rely on one another throughout our lifetime, if needed. I wish us all luck to take on the world before it challenges us.

This school year was going great from football season, homecoming, spirit week, musical events, and basketball season. One joke we loved to say is that we could see our future, because 2020 is also known for clear vision. Oh, we thought we had it all, up until March 12, 2020. Rumors were spreading about baseball games, softball games and classes outside of campus being cancelled because of COVID-19. But Arkansas? Nothing outstanding happens here often, ironically, not even in our town.

And, before you knew it, that day became the last day of school. Many hopeful events were cancelled such as sports banquets, senior banquet, prom, and a normal graduation. We thought graduation would never happen with the news telling us about the number of cases going higher and higher every day. Worldwide, the class of 2020 was truly saddened from an unexpected short coming.

I believe what kept us sane was the one and only, what adults say is ruining kids now, the internet. A part of life is now to stay connected online. Zoom and Google classroom became best friends with teachers to keep us students busy in quarantine.

Zoom has also been used just to communicate with lots of people or friends together through a screen instead of in person. This actually was pretty convenient. Other than completing assignments, I had orientation for my college and a final talk with the class through Zoom.

We have been observing and over hearing what’s next to come for us in the next chapter of life. I’m sure everyone is excited to watch us grow and develop after our troubling teen years of giving teachers bright and stormy days. In this world, that being school, we are someone, but out there, no one knows us.

I challenge you class of 2020 to be known and make your mark of who you are and where you came from. Dollarway. One of the many reasons I love Dollarway is because of the size. Everyone knows each other. Which is why Dollarway is a family and will always stick together through thick and thin for decades to come. I am grateful for the many life lessons and guidance Dollarway has given us. I, Romello Turner, as Dollarway’s graduating class of 2020 Salutatorian, wish my classmates the very best and this is not a goodbye, but a see you later.

Thank you.

— Romello Turner is Dollarway High School’s Salutatorian.