A Lifetime in Four Years

The Struggles of a Pandemic

Adult Education, Book, Books, Knowledge

This year has been filled with ups and downs. Our 2021 graduates have definitely had it rough. However, seniors pushed through, faced their struggles head-on, and have managed to overcome so much. They have learned so much these past four years, and have lots of advice to share with incoming freshmen as well as seniors to be.

As you probably know throughout 2020-2021 we’ve faced the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s caused many setbacks and delays. Many students experienced a huge lack of motivation and struggles with mental health. Last year in 2020, the seniors had the first half of their year normally. This year, seniors are unable to participate in many typical senior experiences. Both were unable to attend prom, and both underwent modified graduation. Needless to say, our seniors have undergone many struggles. 

On a survey, 60% of students rated this year a 3-4 out of ten. Many reported that online school made learning really hard, and not being able to see friends was really hard. Betty Benson told me that she’s had a huge loss of structure, and she’s just waiting for the new school year to start so she can reset in the fall. 

Ashlea Renschler indicated her biggest struggle was, “getting out of bed and staying motivated.”

Brian Le struggled with, “Trying to stay mentally checked in with school and school work.” 

To combat this he tried to keep a consistent schedule and turn his camera on to stay accountable to himself. He also tried to stay active and do stuff outside of the house to get some fresh air. Many students have had to overcome challenges. One student says, “I overcame online learning, I doubted myself. I was going to fail because I had a hard time learning, but here I am about to graduate.”

 Many seniors had to overcome personal struggles on top of everything this year. Brianna Crites had an especially hard time when her grandfather was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

She says, “I was a caretaker for him but also working in the public sector, so I had to be very careful so as to not bring any potential disease into their home. I am grateful to have had the chance to spend so much of his last year with him and to have had time to prepare for his passing, but it stings to know that I hadn’t hugged him in over a year and that he never got to say goodbye to the rest of his family.

Brianna and many other students have lost loved ones these past two years. Whether it be from covid or other reasons, the impact is still the same. This pandemic has ripped many families apart, but it has also brought new relationships and closer bonds. 

Betty Benson told me about how her relationship with her sister has grown over quarantine.

She says, “we’ve become closer as sisters, and we fight WAY less. She’s one of my best friends now.”

Even though these past two years have been filled with ups and downs, students have learned some great things and had some great times. Brianna was able to customize her room and make it a “fun and safe space.” She’s also taken up some hobbies including roller skating, making earrings, and making collages. She’s excited to take these skills with her into the next phase of life. One student said, “I learned to rely more on myself and less on others.” Another stated, ”This year has taught me how important social interactions are.”

Now with the year coming to a close, seniors have had much time to reflect. I asked students what advice they would give to their younger selves and underclassmen, and many said don’t procrastinate. Betty Benson said, “rather than spending high school trying to be in the good graces of others, for them to like you, work on liking yourself first, because this is the time to figure out who you are and who you wanna be.”

Ashlea Renschler said she wished she could tell her younger self to stay ahead of the game. Brian Le said have fun, but start looking at scholarships and colleges early! Briana Crites said, “focus on yourself. Be selfish. I know it may sound strange, but at the end of the day, you are the most important person to take care of. Don’t be afraid to distance yourself from unhealthy relationships. Preserve your mental health. It can be hard to find a place in high school where you feel like you truly fit in, but you can always be there for yourself.”

The seniors this year have definitely been through a lot, but they’ve also learned so many amazing and helpful things along the way. Many have lost loved ones, and many have grown friendships. The four years they’ve been in high school have taught them a lot. This year, seniors have learned lots, and have lots of wisdom to go around. Congratulations 2021 seniors! You’ve overcome so much this year!