FLVS Class of 2020: Dive into the Next Chapter

This post was written by FLVS Full Time National Honor Society President, Maya Washburn. 

To my fellow graduates of the Class of 2020, don’t let the midst of this pandemic dull your fires or sadden your passionate hearts and wise, academic minds. Our accomplishments and experiences over the past four years of our lives surpass in-person contact and any computer screen standing in our way, as we all particularly know very well.  

I would like to thank the people who have come alongside me and practically carried me every step of the way to graduation, including my mom who found a way for me to attend this beloved school of mine. Her constant encouragement and unwavering belief in me fuels my every endeavor. I know it was hard being a single mom working full-time with a daughter who thrived in virtual school, but we did it!  

Teachers, thank you for always being there for me – while teaching me science, math, English, and history, and sponsoring the Mega News Network, Student Council, National Honor Society, Virge literary magazine, and the National English Honor Society. I don’t think any one of us realized at the time that you were most teaching me to believe in myself.  

FLVS Changed How I See the World for the Better 

Florida Virtual School has helped me in my educational journey in profound and unique ways that have since changed my life and the way I see the world for the better. I enrolled as a 9th grade student with previous negative school experiences and having been bullied in elementary and middle school. I remember sitting quietly in brick-and-mortar school classrooms with so much to say, yet foreseeing imminent ridicule by other classmates and sometimes teachers and choosing to stay silent. I remember a world where student council was a popularity contest that wouldn’t think of welcoming me.  

I enrolled in FLVS Full Time with an eagerness to foster a new, better educational journey. Little did I know that FLVS would become a place of refuge for me, a place where I could freely use my hunger for knowledge to learn and explore new ideas each day and connect with my peers, teachers, and school administration that were cheering me on as I discovered new facets of myself and my passions. FLVS became a place where I would excel and take on fascinating and exciting courses at the start of each semester and learn everything there is to know about certain subjects through research, writing, and involvement in clubs. FLVS has not only helped my educational journey, but has developed and reformed it so thoroughly that I believe that I would never truly have discovered my passions for journalism, justice, and my talents and sincere love of learning without the constant support of the community and academic structure this school has given me. If it hadn’t been for the unparalleled, engaging, interactive, and inclusive education that I have received from FLVS, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. 

We Are Trailblazers for the Future 

Today, I have trailblazed student council ventures, completed successful DBAs (even those spoken in Spanish), and received college acceptances and certificates of excellence. These accomplishments may have made me credible and revered and rewarded, but they do not define me. I am instead defined by the in-between moments, those split seconds that have become a part of me and made me who I am. A few of these very many moments have included being told by a fellow student council member that I’m her role model, that I have the unofficial votes of my two National Honor Society advisors if I run for president one day, and the wisdom gleaned from an impromptu one-on-one Q&A session with my U.S. Government teacher in which we delved into the inner push and pull we both have between the worlds of creative and research writing.  

Let Your Story Impact Others 

I’d like to present to you today a piece of my story. If you are willing, I’d like it to serve as a testament to all of the futures arriving before us today.  

Growing up as an only child to a single mother in recovery from drug addiction meant experiencing some hardships, but my childhood was enhanced with clean time anniversaries, celebrations, and inspirational meetings that have steadily molded me into the person I am today. I never looked up to my classmates’ heroes of Wonder Woman and Barbie. Instead, my heroes were society’s least expected characters: reformed criminals, outcasts, and survivors. My bedtime stories were the testimonies shared by speakers in late-night meetings. My passion for justice further inspires me to shed light on these overlooked stories, including my own.  

The redemptive narratives from the kind-hearted recovering addicts of Broward County will forever be an integral part of my identity. From them, I’ve learned that with determination, focus, and diligence, there are no limits to what I can achieve. I have watched lives transform from utmost despair and utter darkness to profound happiness and success. This was only possible with hope, that glimmer of light that persists in even the darkest situations. With hope, I have overcome what seemed impossible, just as those who were once addicted have found liberation. Hope has turned a curse of addiction into a lifelong ambition to work against it and proof that breaking generational cycles is possible. 

My mom and I took our redemptive story to the world and traveled abroad for months at a time during my years in high school, thanks to Florida Virtual School. The first day of my senior year began on a bus from Prague to Berlin. Without the skills I have learned through FLVS, such as time management, dedication, and a vigorous will to succeed, this wouldn’t have been possible. Because of the time I have spent abroad, I now know how to acclimate myself with new and foreign communities, environments, and even languages. 

The chronicles of our lives thus far translate to the upcoming years in our futures. Rather than fear the unknown or the foreign, let’s expectedly look forward to the good that will come from it. Let’s dive into the next chapter, unafraid to go against the grain. However this exciting life full of beautifully windy turns and gloriously unexpected plot-twists ensues, I know that we are ready.  

I’d like to close with the wise words of Aldous Huxley: “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.”

Congratulations, FLVS Class of 2020! 

View the full ceremony recognizing our graduates at https://flvs.net/classof2020.

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