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A few days ago, I mentioned to someone outside of BUA that I work at a high school and that we were still learning in person during this new phase of the pandemic. He immediately offered some well intentioned sympathy: “It must be impossible to keep the students doing the right thing. This has been going on for so long, and they must be sick of all the sacrifices and rules. They are young and healthy; there’s no way they will keep wearing masks and being careful, especially when nobody’s looking.”

I felt badly for him. What he didn’t understand is that for our kids, and for so many other young people out there, doing the right things through this crisis has never been just about them. The reason to sacrifice is for the good of others: a friend who lives with a grandparent or an immunocompromised family member; a staff member with an unvaccinated young child at home. And it’s for the good of the community; our students’ thoughtfulness is what has made it possible for us to be learning in person all these months.

My experience has always been that teenagers, like most adults, respond best when expectations are high, especially when they have a chance to contribute to something beyond themselves. I worry, as does William Damon in Greater Expectations, that our society often thinks too little of teenagers and does them a disservice in the process. I’m proud to be at a school where our students know that to whom much is given, much is expected.

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