What Happened to Senior Year?
January 28, 2021
Taking the lead for the most unusual year, the 2020-2021 school year came with many unexpected changes. Most of these were due to the COVID-19 pandemic which picked up in the second semester of the 2019-2020 school year and forced schools to go virtual. This adjustment caused the class of 2020 to lose their senior year.
The seniors missed participating in key senior events like the much-anticipated second Senior Color Wars, Spring Fling which usually marks the end of their time on campus, prom, and graduation in May. Instead, the seniors had to forego the second Color Wars, Spring Fling, and prom altogether and delay graduation until July. Unfortunately, the delayed graduation allowed each senior to only bring two members of their family.
Feeling pity for the class of 2020, many people ranging from celebrities to principals rushed to make it up to the class. Some celebrities like John Krasinki, widely known for his role as Jim on The Office, hosted a virtual prom for the seniors and invited bands like the Jonas Brothers to perform. Krasinski, along with talk show host Oprah Winfrey, also hosted a virtual graduation ceremony for the students, reading them carefully-crafted speeches and telling them to not lose hope.
Other famous figures joined in the celebrations include Barack and Michelle Obama, with a virtual commencement speech. Then, Malala Yousufzai with another commencement speech. Followed by more singers like Miley Cyrus and Alicia Keys with live performances.
Stars, however, were not the only people helping make the Class of 2020’s graduation special. Parents from all over the United States started an organization called Adopt A Senior where seniors could post a picture of themselves and a small introduction and people from anywhere in the States could “adopt” them. This meant that the adoptee would periodically receive gifts and messages from their adopter.
At Southside, near the end of the school year, teachers chose students to personally deliver yard signs and wish those seniors a safe summer. Seniors also got to participate in a drive by cap and gown distribution service.
Although the class of 2020 did lose crucial high school experiences, one class lost even more. The Class of 2021 entered senior year with high hopes, but was let down. While the 2020 graduates still had the first half of their school year, the class of 2021 did not even have that.
While Southside did allow students to go to football and basketball games, the atmosphere remained ultimately changed. The understandable requirement of wearing masks and standing six feet apart left students unable to do the much-loved chants and participate in many other game-time traditions. This, along with the cancellation of pep rallies, created a situation where school spirit completely diminished.
On top of losing key highlights such as their ‘last game,’ the Class of 2021 also lost the Senior Color Wars and painting parking spots, didn’t get senior shirts, and remains unsure of what exactly they can expect in terms of prom and graduation.
At this point, senior year for the Class of 2021 seems like an endless drone of constantly working to get assignments turned in by 11:59pm. It seems like waking up every morning at 7:00 to work for eight hours, five days a week, for roughly 180 days and then simply leaving. No special memories, no commemorative celebrations, just working at school as usual until one day, it’s done. This COVID controlled situation caused motivation to run low and the dreaded senioritis to run higher than ever.
The Class of 2021 waited for senior year from their first day of Kindergarten. But, due to COVID, any experience worth waiting for was lost behind masks and blended away with schedules. Many current seniors, seeing the Classes of 2022 and 2023 pick out their schedules and seeing life slowly begin inching towards normalcy with the COVID vaccines, feel lost in the shuffle.
Southside must urge its faculty and staff to focus on the Class of 2021. Please urge the various councils to do more for seniors. Creating even small things like a senior shirt or figuring out a way to do Color Wars outside, socially distanced. Councils could organize an “adopt a senior.” Anything would be much appreciated by the seniors who haven’t gotten to be seniors, yet.