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OPINION: Let’s chat about the Class of 2021

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OPINION: Let's chat about the class of 2021

Being a senior in the year of the pandemic is hard. It’s as simple as that.

We’re going to classes and doing our extracurricular activities as we would any other year, but this time around, our efforts seem smudged by the reception of last year’s seniors.

When all schools got sent home last March, there was a general hubbub of what was going to happen for senior students. High schoolers would be missing their proms and senior awards nights. Closer to home, WC seniors would be missing their final Sing and Swing, URAC (and URAC Eve), and other important events on campus. And everyone was missing graduation.

It was sad knowing that a year you look forward to for years was being cut short. I’m sure it was an unpleasant shock for many seniors, and they likely took some time to recover from that. Events that happen your senior year are often the most emotional. You get to experience them with your friends that you’ve spent four years making. You get to say your goodbyes to what has become tradition.

It was universally acknowledged that the seniors of 2020 missed out.

People made signs to put in their front yards emblazoned with the picture and school of their favorite graduates. People hosted “car parades” in celebration of graduation. Some companies created special discounts and promotions exclusive to the Class of 2020 graduates. Even Westminster offered a free summer course to all graduates in response to the Covid-19 shutdown.

All of these efforts are incredibly important. It was hard to adjust to school at home, and I imagine it would be doubly hard when you envisioned yourself marking those last milestones alongside your friends. Even when I walked around my neighborhood and saw those signs, it felt nice to know that graduates were being celebrated despite the craziness of the world.

Being part of the Class of 2021 does feel bittersweet, though.

It’s nice that the Class of 2020 was celebrated with such vivacity, but when it comes down to it, they only experienced two months of weird schooling. The Class of 2021? Our current count is six months of weirdness (and I am definitely counting the summer months in there because not a day went by when I didn’t hear someone wondering what the coming semester was going to be like). And it’s looking as though that six-month total will be closer to 14 months by the time we graduate.

Yes, we’re back at school. We are physically on campus and that counts for something, right? Maybe. I’m not sure it counts for much. It is nice to take classes in an environment that feels more academic than the couch in my polka-dotted, colorful bedroom, but the sheer volume of regulations we have to follow almost negates the good feeling we get from being back on campus.

It’s not a typical year by any means. I can accept that. Everyone knows, though, -- or at least everyone says – senior year is supposed to be the most fun. I don’t think I’m alone in saying this year is primarily stressful (and not just because of Capstone projects).

We have months until we actually graduate. (This is the silver lining because that means there is time for correction.) The Class of 2020 was met with great fondness and admiration for finishing school in a time that was absolute bananas. What will be the reception toward the Class of 2021?

2020 Graduates got to experience normalcy and joy for almost their entire senior year. I don’t want to diminish what they sacrificed in any way, because I know it was a lot, but I would like recognition for the current seniors who are not having and will continue to not have any sort of normalcy.

Will our families put up pictures of us on our front lawns? Will people have car parades in our honor? Will free graduate classes be offered to us? Will we have The Rock painted in our honor: “Gone, but not Forgotten”?

My biggest question is even if we do have these things, will people get excited about it still? My social media feed was filled with videos of people receiving these grandiose gestures. Social media is fleeting, though. There’s a good chance that these expressions of congratulations will be obsolete by then.

This year has been hard for everyone. Nobody knows what to expect. In fact, most people expected us to be back at home by now, the campus shut down from too many cases. Luckily, we’ve kept case numbers down, which has allowed us to stay on campus. As case numbers increase each day, though, the hope for some gesture of gratitude toward this year’s seniors also increases.

There is time and room for recognitions to be made. But as a tired and frustrated senior, I think I speak for all of us when I say, we’re missing out, too.

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