The preparation that goes into planning outfits for senior pictures and the excitement of the last first day of high school. The stress of applying to colleges. Friday night lights repping the orange and blue, and the final bittersweet moment walking across the stage with diploma in hand. All of these moments make up the last year of high school, but not for the class of 2021.
An exception to the stereotypical senior year, the coronavirus has altered the world and created a new normal. The picture perfect year seniors envisioned is now an afterthought, and the Class of 2021 has to come to terms with missing out on the “normal” senior year they thought they would have.
“I was really looking forward to going to sports events as a senior and being able to play baseball for my last year of high school. Being around my friends was a big thing for me too. Spending our last year together,” senior Donovan Pope said.
Senior year is the last chance to bond with friends and create lifelong memories with this special group of people before everyone goes their separate ways. For the Class of 2021 this is another aspect that has changed.
“I just really want my soccer season to be as normal as possible, because that’s what ended up building a lot of relationships and new friendships with a bunch of different girls. That goes farther than just high school. That’s something that you can take with you. And so my concern is that if it isn’t as normal because of COVID-19, I will be missing out on a bunch of different potentials that could have happened as well as getting better in soccer, ” senior Amanda Wise said.
Masks and social distancing have become second nature. The rising number of cases caused the start of the school to take on a different form: completely virtual. Digital learning was not what the class of 2021 had in mind for the start of their senior year.
“The hardest thing definitely has to do with education. It’s very hard to get education or what I’m trying to learn across the computer screen from a teacher to student. I feel like I’m being cheated out of my education because it’s been much harder to interact with the teacher and much harder to understand based on your computer screen,” Wise said.
Online learning is a new concept for students. There are many new factors added once the classroom transformed from white boards and desks to cameras and microphones.
“The teacher actually being there with you and being able to help you in between stuff is a little different than the way it is online. Right now online is just hard for me,” Pope said.
Learning a concept through a screen can pose challenges. Seniors are not only having to learn new material digitally they are also trying to get the one-on-one attention with their college counselor to assist them with college applications and future plans after high school.
“It is hard to understand completely how to go through with these applications and go through with actually completing the process of applying for college and applying for financial aid. It has not been as easy as it would have been because in person we would have had guidance right next to us in order to help us to achieve the things. Whereas virtually, we’re kind of left to our own selves to try to figure it out,” Wise said.
The last year in high school is also the time when seniors begin to apply to colleges and start to prepare for their life after their high school careers finally come to an end. These preparations started at the end of junior year and continue throughout senior year.
Many seniors scheduled to take their SAT tests at the end of their junior year. This would give them plenty of time to take the test again to get a score they would be satisfied with for applications. This was another obstacle the class of 2021 had to face.
“I had signed up for the SAT in May, but it kept getting pushed back which was hard at the time because I had been studying and was ready to take it,” Pope said.