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All In blog by MCPS Superintendent Dr. Jack R. Smith

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All In: Class of 2020 Shares Reflections
on Challenging School Year

Dear Class of 2020,

Congratulations! During this week of virtual graduations, I want to wish each of you the very best now and in the future. I graduated from high school 45 years ago this week in a little town in Eastern Washington State. It’s cliché to say, but I do not know where the time has gone.

A few weeks ago, I asked staff members across the school system to help me gather some of your thoughts as you finish high school. A few hundred responses were posted to the questions I posed. So here is what some of you—the members of the Class of 2020—shared.

Thought for the Day
Thought for the Day

Be grateful for what life has given you and count your blessings.  

Practice social distancing.  

Wish we could go back to school so that my video game addiction doesn’t get worse.

Don’t get lost in comparing yourself to others; you still have success ahead.

Choose kind.

How do towels get dirty if you get out of the shower clean?

If an idea is stupid, but it works, is it really stupid?

I had a great experience at my high school.

Get some sleep. We all skimp on that way too often.

Change your thoughts and you’ll change the world.


Thought for the Day
Worst Experience During COVID-19

I never got to say goodbye to some really special people.

Wearing a mask everywhere you go

The exponential boredom and loneliness due to being confined to our own homes without social contact with friends

No prom, no graduation

Less food

Not going to school anymore


The worst thing about COVID-19 is that I can’t get a haircut.

The worst thing during the COVID-19 pandemic is that I didn't have the possibility to walk across the stage.

People dying and getting sick; never knowing who has it or who is carrying it

Some days are very slow.

Well, I think the worst thing during the COVID-19 pandemic is not being able to see your friends or relatives. Sometimes I wish that my dad could leave his country and stay with us so that we could be all together. Remember the quarantine is happening for our own good. If we really care for our relatives and friends, then the wise thing will be to follow the social distancing guidelines and have patience. One day, we will meet them.

Seeing the same three people for two months straight (I love my family, but guys, I need some space).

Thought for the Day
Advice to the Class of 2021

Spend your years well.

Work smarter, not harder.

Never give up until the battle is fought. During my senior year, there was a point in time where I thought I would never pass a certain class. Despite that feeling, I knew in my heart that I would never forgive myself if I gave up before the semester ended. So, until the very end, I did what I could, and managed to pull myself through.

Good luck.

The only one stopping you is yourself.

Don’t take AP classes; do dual enrollment.

Don’t be lazy.

Never give up.

First, don't miss opportunities you're given, even if the stakes, expectations and/or risks are high. Who knows what the outcome you achieve would be. Second, words are more powerful than you think. Choose your words wisely and you can be rewarded.

Get your college apps done early so that if anything happens, you have enough time to take care of it.

Pretend you know what you are doing.

Stay on top of your grades; don't let senioritis kick in. Maintain your focus.

Wash your hands.

Only thing I’m going to say is … if we made it through this year even with COVID-19, then you can too.

Be the best you can be. Lead by example. You are seniors. 

Thought for the Day
Favorite Quote or Statement
from a Teacher or Administrator

"Elaborate."—my favorite AP Lit teacher

“Be good; do good.”—Edward Owusu, principal

“Why is patience so important? Because it makes us pay attention.”—Kristen Bouvé, teacher

"Excuse me."—Every teacher in the school

“Once I see you cross that stage, you better come give me a hug and thank me because I am not going to let you give up on yourself regardless of how hard times are for you right now.”

“B is a number.”—David Kraft, teacher (Taken out of context, but funny nonetheless.)

My favorite quote is from my instrumental music teacher. He always told us to work hard and when we do that, then sit back, relax and have a Coke. Shout out to Mr. (Daniel) Grande!

My favorite quote from a teacher is, “Do it now, Marilyn. Do it now and be free!” 

“Music is good for the soul.”—Ms. E., chorus teacher

“Work hard because in the end it’s worth it!”

“Don't be indifferent to the truth.”

“Don’t get lost in the sauce.”—Mr. Green

A statement I won’t ever forget is, “Don’t ever give up or let people bring you down because of where you’re coming from.” And my algebra teacher once said, “I’m proud of you.”

The only thing I have ever heard any of my teachers say is, "Keep studying and work hard."

“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”—Haroot Hakopian, AP language teacher

"You don't have to be here; you get to be here!"—Robyn Kleiner-Vilgos, teacher

“Thank you for feeding my coffee addiction.”—Matthew Albright, teacher

My AP Calc AB teacher would always say, "You've got to know your stuff," and the students would say, "All the time."

"Algebra, algebra, algebra"—Inyong Choi, teacher

“Welcome to the Chris Kenworthey Show, folks. We're going to do this in one take, with no camera cuts. You will all be on television. Stand by. Enjoy the show! We are live in 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1.” (Cue the music. Band starts playing. Theme song washes over the audience. Applause signs pulsate on and off.) “And here he is, The Quarantined Kid, Mr. Kenworthey.”—Christopher Kenworthey, social studies teacher

“Work hard, stay humble, stay humble, work hard.”—Mr. Hall

Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, seniors. You are smart, funny and insightful. And you care deeply about justice, equity and the well-being of others.

I look forward to hearing about your great work and accomplishments in the future.

Take care and be well,

Jack Smith

Montgomery County Public Schools

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Montgomery County Public Schools
850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, MD, 20850
Call: 240-740-3000 | Spanish Hotline: 240-740-2845