Breaking News! 2021 High school seniors survive their final year of high school all while dealing with a global pandemic.
Probably not the headline you were hoping for for your senior year. But it was the one you got, and man have you handled it well. You’ve put on a brave face, smiled through the change, and have still managed to accomplish so much. You, seniors, have a unique story to tell going forward that won’t compare to others. That story is filled with moments of extreme emotions, adapting to new territory, and finding the benefits through this odd time.
Now, the story.
March of 2020 you were asked to participate in online learning for the rest of the school year. Covid-19 cases were on the rise and society as you knew it shut down. You stayed home, missed out on prom, completed school in a way you never have, wore masks, found new hobbies, had zoom parties. All while thinking that things would go back to normal the next school year and making plans for future endeavours.
June 2020 comes around and finally you are able to leave home while still being extremely cautious. You meet your friends at parks and sit in the trunk of your car just to talk. Or you have movie nights outside where you all sit 6 feet apart. But you don’t care because you have your social outings back. Your appreciation for your friends grew. You adapted and found incredible ways to still be connected to your world through such a hard time. While the summer was different, you found joy in the smallest things and longed for the start of a normal senior year.
August 2020. Tears started to form. You just found out the senior year you have waited for, was going to look a little different. Your school was going to have cohorts and you were going to split time between in person class and remote learning. What cohort would you be in? Would your friends be in the same one? How is this going to work? The worries in your head were overwhelming. Though, you have gotten really good at taking the lemons you’re handed and making lemonade and soon turned those worries into positives. You found ways to make this plan seem okay. You enjoyed the days you got to go to school to see your friends and teachers. You loved being done with school at 1:30 everyday. And you even found an appreciation for online school!
For a couple months you chugged along wearing masks to school, adjusting to the two days in two days out while finding moments of true happiness. Even though your senior homecoming was canceled, you found other ways to celebrate. The days your cohort were in school you had your own spirit days! You took pictures with your friends, enjoyed being the senior citizens on generation day and wearing your senior toga while chanting “TOGA TOGA TOGA!!” down the hallways. You might have even gotten dressed up on ‘homecoming night’ so you could take pictures outside with your hot date and/or handful of friends. It's not what you pictured, but it's the memory you still got to make. You smiled that night. A lot. And this is a memory only you will get to share in years to come.
Holiday break 2020 comes around. Congratulations! Only one more semester and you're a high school graduate!! That's something to truly be proud of. You enjoyed your holidays with your family and got some encouraging news. There’s a Covid-19 vaccine! Could normal things start happening? You are jumping for joy about the possibility of a more normal second semester! The news comes and you are still a hybrid model for school. BUT… there is talk about a possible prom, make a wish week occurring, and an actual graduation ceremony. There are things in place that will make you feel special and celebrated in the ways you deserve. You can breathe. You get to look forward to a proper celebration. You hold onto the hope that this all happens and appreciate the small gestures. Though the prom might be different or the graduation ceremony might be smaller, you don’t care. It’s happening and it's perfect for you for this year.
Graduation day 2021. You made it. You did it through a global pandemic and everything else one experiences as a senior. Be proud of yourself. This year has taught you more than you know. Its taught you resilience. You bounced back after each thing you looked forward to was canceled. You found new ways of creating memories. It taught you a deeper love. You learned to say I love you to your friends and family more often as the next day is not always promised. You learned to love yourself more. As you sat at home for those months you learned to appreciate who you truly are without a constant comparison. It’s taught you how to roll with the tide. When plans changed, you got creative on how to still enjoy your senior year. You made it the best you could!
Congratulations Class of 2021. You made it through a global pandemic. Though it wasn’t what you thought it would be, it was still a great ride. You are stronger, smarter, and more resilient than you were before. You are destined for greatness.