Bell County superintendents are recognizing the importance of their Class of 2020 students — at a time when students are looking for messages of reassurance coming from their administrators.

In a YouTube video in which he donned a Temple High letterman jacket, Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott spoke on some of the uncertainties his seniors are facing.

“As seniors you’re the student leaders of Temple ISD. You’re the top of the ladder and the closest to the next line of passage. Heading off to pursue your dreams, manage your new independence and become part of society,” Ott said.

He emphasized how he understands how the COVID-19 pandemic certainly has affected the social experiences and milestones many students long have been looking forward to — whether it be spring competitions, athletics, CTE events or fine arts.

“I know these are just some of the many things you are concerned about at this moment, so here’s my message to you. In life there are things we can control and things that we cannot,” Ott said.

He stressed how the district will make sure to help create the special memories the senior class deserves, and will do the best to minimize the effects of campus closures.

“We are proposing to lock GPAs in with what you learned at the end of the fourth sixth-weeks as opposed to the fifth sixth-weeks. This is because it reflects the last time school was actually normal,” Ott said.

Temple ISD also has removed all major assignments during the remote learning phase because the district wants to value engagement over grades.

Ott said he shares his UIL and CTE students’ desire to resume competitions.

“As soon as we are notified that we can compete and that we can be on the field to play, we are going to continue winning like the Class of 2020 knows how,” Ott said.

Temple High’s prom at the Bell County Expo Center has been re-scheduled for May 23, and the district is looking to ensure other senior events are still feasible.

 “I recognize the importance of a senior year,” Ott said in his YouTube video to his TISD seniors. “I fully intend to be the one to hand you your diploma unless I am forced otherwise. Be safe and stay connected.”

Salado ISD Superintendent Michael Novotny had a similar message for his seniors.

“We are going to do our best to provide the milestones for our graduating seniors. This will be my ninth high school class to graduate here in Salado and my 12th class as a superintendent,” Novotny said.

He said he has a great understanding of what the graduating seniors are going through, since this is the first year he has had a senior of his own.

“My own son is graduating with this year’s class, so I’ve certainly had greater appreciation for how important these events are,” Novotny said. “Certain dates are subject to change based on how long it takes us to get back from this coronavirus crisis, but we certainly think it’s incredibly important for us to try and provide these milestone experiences for our graduating seniors.”

Belton ISD Superintendent Matt Smith shared a similar message to seniors.

“I’m heartbroken for our senior class and how the school closure impacted their final weeks together with their classmates, teachers and coaches,” Smith said. “While I’m focused on the safety of our entire community during this pandemic, I also recognize the memorable experiences our seniors are missing. I have challenged our staff to be prepared to create as many of those milestone experiences as possible in the coming weeks.”

Although Smith doesn’t know exactly what those experiences might look like, he said his team of teachers and administrators share that same passion about working diligently to find a way to keep these events alive.

“I want our students to hear, loud and clear, that this pandemic is not their legacy. We are going to work with our staff and our students to do what is right and good for the Class of 2020,” Smith said. “Over the next couple weeks we will be reaching out, asking for ideas and feedback, and doing our best to celebrate our seniors.”

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