Letter from Tamara Ellis Smith

Dearest Students,

You are the hope of the world. Your questions, your curiosity, your empathy, and your convictions are hope on fire—burning bright and spreading light.

What I want you to know most, what I want you to hold onto tightly, is that your voices are the authentic ones now. Adults are supposed to be the authorities, right? We are supposed to be the moral compasses, the wisdom that comes with age—but we’re not right now. YOU ARE. You’ve been in it. Most of us haven’t. You’ve been in it and through it to the other side, and because of that your ideas and your feelings matter deeply. I’m going to say it again. You are authenticity.

And so I defer to you all. I will stand by your sides as you speak and act your truths. I will help as much as I can from that place. And here’s one other thing I will do. If you begin to lose faith in yourselves, if other people wear you down with their judgment of you or their power games, know that I will hold your faith for you. I will stand at your side, holding your faith, holding your hands, until you want it back again. You’ve got this.

With respect and gratitude,