By Brett Shearer
We’ve faced a lot of hardship this year, as a school, but also for the senior class. Previous senior classes have had a lot to think about, between maintaining their grades, preparing for college, and making peace with a chapter closing on their lives.
This year, however, the seniors had to deal with all that, in addition to an inconsistent schedule, constant political turmoil we barely- if at all- have a say in, and a pandemic that has only recently let up. This senior year has been in constant flux for the senior class, and this hasn’t been lost on our teachers.
Mrs. Dawn Raleigh has been teaching theater, English, and film lit for a while now, and has a unique insight on the troubles and tribulations of this year. She may not have the most seniors of the teachers, but those she has have been in her classes for most, if not all of their high school years. She knows how much was missed this year; how much seniors have given up to get through it.
“Coming through this year; coming through the chaos that we’ve had from last year into this year; to show the respect that you have as seniors to contain many of your frustrations throughout the school year, just throughout the pandemic, I think, that’s going to be a hard thing to deal with because, I think, that you guys got cheated in a lot of ways with this year,” Raleigh said. “That’s disappointing to you and to me, because I think you guys didn’t get to showcase yourselves as much. That will always be a bittersweet sort of thing when it comes to this year as ‘the year that almost was.’”
She believes, though, that the senior class has shown the underclassmen what it means to be mature. That it’s important to roll with the punches, stick it out when times are tough, because that’s how we get out on top, how we survive and even thrive in the wake of the pandemic.
“I just think that you all should be proud of what you’ve accomplished over these four years, that, again, you have grown so much, you have been striving to do the best you can. be who you need to be, and have that confidence to do so.”
In essence, Mrs. Raleigh believes that this class leaves behind a legacy of perseverance; a legacy of growth and maturity, that, despite the chaos and challenges, the senior class will continue to pull ahead and meet them head on.
Mr. James Lodl is another teacher seniors are familiar with, as many had him for freshman English. Like Raleigh, he has seen how the seniors have developed as a class, and holds a few special relationships with those in the past and present that have been in his classes. He has insight into the legacy that the seniors, as a class, will likely leave behind.
“This class had to grow up a lot more than others; they were thrust into this adult world of COVID 19, where it’s like ‘OK, we’re living through this lockdown, now we’re living through these masks, now we’re living through the vaccine, and living through this weird national tragedy.’ I think the students had grown up a lot, and they had to do it fast. They really, I think, are focused on the future. I’ve had a lot of kids who are not scared, but anxious, and they’ve sort of had to buckle down and are thinking, ‘I have to have a plan A, plan B, plan C. I gotta get out there and start grinding.’ A lot of just strong, strong people.”
He also feels that this rapid maturation has left the seniors little room for the underclassmen; not that seniors have ever really been fond of the younger students. This year, however, has seen even more division between the seniors and juniors, sophomores, and freshmen, at least from Mr. Lodl’s perspective, as seniors have been more focused on themselves and getting through this mess of a year.
“You’re entering a world with a lot of problems, but that just means that there’s a lot of opportunity to come up with solutions,” he said. “If you focus on the problems, it can be easy to get brought down, but if you look at all the solutions that are needed, and remember that you are a smart, strong person, you can contribute to making the world a better place, and you will be successful.”
Miss Amanda Craw has 61 seniors in her classes, almost two times that of Mr. Lodl, and like Mr. Lodl, most of the seniors are familiar with her, especially if they took her freshman English honors class. Now that she’s teaching BSU English, many have her again, which is rather bittersweet for her.
“This class was a really, really good class, so it will be sad not to see them around. It’s been great to see them grow academically and socially. They really got the short end of the stick, not being able to go to prom last year and having so much eLearning.”
She feels that the senior class works well together; that seniors as a class have shown they are artistic and academic in spite of the hardships they’ve faced. She had a short but sweet message as seniors are sent off into their futures.
“Don’t stop learning!”
We are delving into a world full of hardships, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. If we remain true to ourselves, and we contribute our minds, hearts, and bodies to fixing the world, and maybe we can leave it better than we found it. It will be an arduous and long road, our teachers have faith, our parents have faith, and so should we. So remember, don’t stop learning.