By Natalie Smink, DSST: Montview Class of 2020
“This is your generation’s world to shape,” these words rang in my ears as I sat on my couch listening to President Barack Obama’s Graduate Together commencement speech. They stirred something inside me. Feelings different from the loss and boredom that have gripped me since I learned we would not be going back to school. These words filled me with hope and excitement. Sure, it was also daunting to hear a former President of the United States tell me, “the fate of the world rests on you and your classmates’ shoulders,” but I couldn’t help the flutter of elation in my chest. I know the Class of 2020, and there could not be a better class to carry this responsibility.
Over the past seven years, I have watched the DSST: Montview Class of 2020 accomplish incredible feats and surpass countless expectations. We were the first class to earn quiet hallways in 7th grade. We have helped organize multiple walkouts to express our frustration with gun violence, racial inequality, and inaction against climate change. We created a Student Voice organization that allows students to work directly with our school’s leadership team to make changes in the school, from dress code to Morning Meeting. We fought to change the name of our school from Stapleton, a name that we felt did not accurately represent the diversity of students who proudly make up DSST, to Montview, the street that connects the neighborhoods of DSST students and extends our community beyond school grounds. We are a class of passionate leaders who do not back down when we are challenged, but instead rise to the occasion.
It is this mindset of the Class of 2020 that ensured we would be remembered at DSST: Montview long before COVID-19 happened. We do not believe in doing anything halfway or allowing opportunities to pass us by. Just ask our teachers, like Dr. Hathaway, Ms. Lepore, or Mr. Arnesen, who gave us the smallest bit of creative freedom and in return received elaborate cell posters with each organelle meticulously drawn and described, unique paintings and projects depicting the Shape of Our Feelings, and imaginative representations of the greatest accomplishments of historical figures.
During Senior Project, we once again took our passion beyond the classroom and asked how we could make a larger impact on our community. Ray Roberts and Aidan Rambo were frustrated by the lack of availability of healthy foods to low income families, so for their Senior Project they designed an hydroponics system that would allow low income families to grow their own food. Melia Zepeda and Karla Chavez helped bring awareness to missing and murdered indigenous women through a virtual art gallery and the dedication of red dresses to the victims. These are only two examples of the many projects Montview Seniors created this year to pursue their own interests, while still helping those around them. The Class of 2020 is selfless, caring, and passionate about making the community and world around them a better place.
Looking to the future, I cannot wait to see what amazing feats the Montview Class of 2020 will accomplish. We are a class of activists who fight for what we believe is right. A class of engineers and scientists who are innovative and forward thinking. A class of artists who bring beauty and meaning into the world. A class of leaders who guide others through our actions and words. But, most of all, we are a class of vision. We see what is wrong with the world and what needs to change. We see what is right with the world and how to expand it. We see how much we have to do.
So, yes, being the next generation to step up and take responsibility for the world is terrifying, but after seeing everything the MTV Class of 2020 has accomplished over the past seven years I am excited to do it with them. We have a desire to uplift the world around us and have a positive impact on our communities. President Obama, I agree this is now our world to shape. And I can’t wait to see how we do it.