#spartanresilience Words of Encouragement from the Steward Community

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Steward community has stepped up to bring people together while remaining physically apart. Many have sent us encouraging notes and videos as we learn to navigate this uncertain terrain together. Below, we have collected these powerful statements for your enjoyment.

Dear Class of 2020,

I know everything is happening really fast, faster than any of us ever imagined. We don’t know the answers and honestly, I barely know what the questions are either. But, what I do know, is that being in this together means we can get through anything.

On February 28th, I walked into school stressed about my first block stats test, scribbled a 1984 essay during lunch, took a gov test, and left school with a huge sigh of relief. I was relieved that everything was over, at least for the time being, and that the spring healing was on its way. There was mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer. I could finally set my backpack down and leave it untouched. There were new Netflix releases. Everything seemed almost too good to be true -- it was the most calm I had felt in a while.

Three weeks later, I was given the news that I would never be able to finish my senior year on campus. And the thing is, no matter how hard I try, I can barely remember that Friday. Had I known it was my last on-campus day of senior year, I would’ve done some things differently. I would’ve told my teachers I appreciated them more than they could ever know, hugged my friends even tighter, said thank you to every single member of our senior class, and walked around campus one last time. I wouldn't have been in such a rush to get home. I would’ve held on to those moments as long and as hard as I possibly could have, taking everything in, savoring it all.

Sitting at home, I’m trying to process everything, trying to figure out how such a seemingly magical year turned into this. We’re living a science-fiction novel we never asked to be a part of. We’re seeing news every single day about more and more people dying, more and more hysteria, more and more fear. We’re in our homes, safe, warm, but still terrified. All around the world, each and every one of us has lost something. Some of us feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves as well. I’m not an expert, but I think the only way we can regain what we have lost, is by loving each other with absolutely everything we can. Checking up on our friends, making amends, telling our family we love them, and not letting these current months define our four years.

Steward gave us something so precious that I can barely find the words to describe it. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to, but I do know that we are all a part of that something. Steward is Steward because of all of you. This school gave us another family, one that cheered the loudest and one that had a front-row seat at all of our milestones. Whatever we’ve done these past four years, we’ve done every single thing together. Every success, every failure, every high, every low. And even though we can’t be together on campus during this time of uncertainty, we will all conquer it together.

Steward is where you get a morning welcome every single day, its the kaleidoscopic sunrays glimmering through the Weeping Willow tree after practice, the crunching of the Bryan Lab gravel under your feet, the Colonnade in late fall, the senior lounge refrigerator, the bus rides from away matches, standing on stage and feeling the spotlight warm every bone in your body, cheering from the top of your lungs in the student section -- everything.

We’re going to take back our year. This isn’t the end, this isn’t a loss, this isn’t a surrender.

It is, in fact, a celebration. It’s a celebration of the hundreds of hours we put into our passions, every victory we’ve had, and the incredible colleges we’ll be attending next year. This is far from an ending, it’s the beginning of the rest of our lives.

Yesterday, I felt empty. Today, I feel full of hope.

These are the best years of our life, let’s make them count as hard as we possibly can. Prom, graduation, senior events -- we will have them all. And even if they aren’t the way we imagined it in our heads, we’ll find our truest beauty in the unconventional. We'll cherish those events even more.

The time is now. Take a second to stop and let it all soak in. Celebrate how far you’ve come. Savor each moment you have. Tell your friends and family how much you love them. Forgive others and make amends. Choose compassion. We can do this.

The stories we wrote at Steward will live in its halls forever. No matter how much we succeed, how much we experience, how far we go, one thing is for certain: we will always find our way back home.

- Sonali Sanjay '20

"My heart goes out to all of the seniors and other athletes who worked so hard to get ready for the spring season. During this time it is important to keep a positive attitude. We will get through this together. Stay strong, Spartans!"

- Michael Sims '13

“Stay positive and make the most out of this situation. Now is a great time to be innovative!”

- Nicole Teichner '18

"Faculty, I know this must be a very challenging situation as you’re trying to finish out the year without being able to interact with your students face-to-face. You all are such dedicated and resilient people, so I know you will continue to offer the best for your students."

- Abbie Campbell '19

"I don’t know where I would be without you. I attended Steward K-12. I learned everything from this school—how to write, how to count, and especially how to make and keep friends. I remember fondly the teachers, coaches, and mentors I was fortunate enough to meet. They inspire me to this day. Steward and its community are what it is because of you—our faculty and staff. We all face a difficult road ahead. But if I learned anything at Steward, it is that difficulty creates opportunities for greatness. Necessary steps taken today can inspire the innovations of tomorrow’s educational landscape. No community and no staff are better prepared to meet these challenges than Steward’s. We are all looking forward to the conclusion of these strange times. I know that you, the faculty and staff, will pull through this experience!"

- Preston Huennekens '12

"'Thank you' does not seem adequate for all you do for the students, especially now that you’ve had to switch from the 'normal' to everything being online. What a learning curve! I know the students are missing your in-person classes. As an alumni, I still have many fond memories of classes, field trips, plays, concerts, and talent nights. Thinking about you all."

- Mary Warden Good '07

"These are tumultuous times, and I’m sure adjusting to online teaching is not without its challenges. I hope everyone is adapting well to this new educational method. What you do for students and their education does not go unnoticed and is much appreciated. I hope that you and your loved ones are safe!"

- Carlos Cevallos '13

"It is so important to remember the good that we all have within us during this time, and it seems Steward teachers are ever mindful of this. Thank you again for everything that you’ve given me, every way you’ve shaped me into the person I am today, and every tool I’ve received in order to mold my own future. Stay strong, Steward."

- Dan Kovach '16

"You all are some of the most dedicated teachers and administrators I have ever seen, and the students are lucky to have you. I know you all will continue to do everything you can for the students at The Steward School because you are all so resilient. Keep up the amazing work!"

- Abby Dwelle '19

"I can only imagine how difficult it must be to transition curricula online and cultivate an experience that parallels the classroom setting. A lot has changed; however, it isn’t the location of classes that makes the Steward experience, but rather the community of people who embody it. In a time of so much uncertainty, lean into one another because one thing still remains certain—it is the resilient relationships within the Steward family that will carry us through this. Stay safe, and go Spartans!"

- Kara Chalifoux '18

"As a Spartan, I am proud to see that the learning environment continues to thrive in an online setting at Steward. More importantly, I am proud to hear and be part of a community that strives to serve those around us. Today more than ever we must be stewards to our communities. We must serve those in need, and we must all do our parts in overcoming this obstacle. Therefore, let’s all be resilient, let’s all be strong, and let’s all be Spartans!"

- Jacob Roca '13

"Steward’s faculty and staff go above and beyond. They’re attentive and passionate about what they do. Although I may be biased, I think that Charlene Wilton is someone who embodies the meaning of being a steward. She is dedicated, hardworking, and extremely knowledgeable. She is amazing, and even though she is retiring, I know that she has helped so many students achieve and succeed."

- Ana Leahy '13

"I encourage everyone to take advantage of this time and use it to grow however you want. If you have a goal, use this time to work toward it! Also, enjoy the time you have with your families. Personally, I appreciate the blessings in life a lot more due to this and hope you see it the same way. Praying for the Steward family as always—love you all."

- Alex Fabiato '19

"Keep up the good work, and thank you for making Steward shine so brightly!"

- Scott Moncure '83

"Thank you for doing such an amazing job and being extremely flexible. During my time at Steward, I met some of the most creative, out-of-the-box thinkers who always found a way to make the students' experiences engaging! Your mindset taught me that anything is possible with enough passion. And I know that because of your passion, you are helping fuel the lives of those around you. Thank you so much for everything you've done so far and continue to do for our community!"

- Anastasia Postolati '16

"I love seeing the care and attention the faculty and staff pour into the Steward community every day. The extra effort to reach out individually to every current student and alumnus is unprecedented and certainly means a lot. I know times are hard, but following along with your dedication has helped bring a smile to my face as I remember my time at Steward as well. Wishing you all the best as we move forward as only Spartans can."

- Mark Leopold '15

"I am grateful that the importance of community was instilled in me at a young age at Steward. If I had any advice on how to stay positive throughout this strange, uncertain time, I would say do these three things daily. Do something nice for yourself mentally. This is hard and everyone is affected, even if not directly. Do something nice for your neighbor. We are lucky as Spartans to have such an amazing support group; others are not so lucky. Lastly, do yourself a favor and put on a New Orleans legend, Dr. John, and have a dance party with your family. That’s what has been saving me every day. WHO DAT, and go Spartans!"

- Samantha Cummings '12

“I know times are tough right now, but we will only come out of this stronger. Everything is going to be okay, and with the support of each other we can get through anything! I’m thinking of all Steward students, parents, coaches, faculty, and staff during this time, and I can’t wait to see everyone happier than ever when this is all said and done.”

- Caroline Laibstain '18

"I am so sorry you are going through all of this. I know it must be hard not being able to see everyone at Steward, but I know how strong and dedicated you are, and I have complete faith that you will get through these tough times and be the same united Steward community that everyone admires. Thank you for all you do to make sure that your students are loved and cared for, and thank you for all that you do to prepare your students for future and for life. I miss you all, and I am so grateful for my time at Steward!"

- Gracie Goodpasture '19

"Though moments right now may be uncomfortable, disappointing, boring, calm, entertaining, or exciting, let’s try and remember to give each moment our full attention, no matter how the moment unfolds and presents itself. I have a piece of paper taped up on my wall so I see it throughout the day that says: 'Right now, it’s like this.' This is a perfect reminder for me and gives me a little jolt to pay attention to what’s going on in real time. I believe that if my grandfather Paul Cramer was with us today and speaking to the students, teachers, and staff he loved so dearly, he would address everyone with a contagious sense of calm, encouragement, and love. He would ground us and motivate us to keep our head up and face whatever life presents to us with open arms and courage. I hope everyone can find some peace during this time and know that every moment is a rare gift."

- Sarah Austen Holzgrefe '13

"Faculty and staff: THANK YOU for the lessons you teach both in and out of the classroom. Thank you for teaching us to be flexible and adapt to new situations. Thank you for teaching us to be responsible for our work. Thank you for teaching us to use our voices! Those skills go a long way in today’s online classrooms and workplaces. Thank you for teaching us about what it means for people in a community to look out for each other, and thank you for teaching us about balance. I think balance is something we can all use right now, and I hope that among all the work you put into online classes, you’re finding time to spend with your own families at home. You all are truly preparing your students for college and for life, so please keep doing what you’re doing, stay healthy, and stay happy!"

- Jess Jordan '18

My father, Paul Cramer, instilled in me and my family, as well as the Steward community, the importance of having three senses present in our daily lives: a sense of balance, a sense of perspective, and a sense of humor. I can’t think of a time better than the one we are living in now to keep these present in our daily lives. While finding humor may be difficult, we should strive to find it in the little things to help us manage the challenges we are all facing. Having been part of the Steward community for 45 years, I know we all will come through this stronger together!

- Susan Cramer Twining '84

Often, I find myself reflecting on the unwavering support system Steward provided me throughout my younger years. I can honestly say the infrastructure of support that the Steward community gave to me is one that I have not been able to find anywhere else. Now, as COVID-19 has turned our world inside out, many will see this time as a period of stagnation. Instead, I encourage you to look at this time as a period of growth and that you, both students and faculty, help each other find ways to get through these extraordinary times.

- Stephanie Legg '13

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The Steward School