The senior class of 2021 had any number of reactions to being able to walk across the stage for a traditional graduation last week, on June 9, as it has been one of the most disrupted senior years on record for any class in more than a generation. The Class of 2021 left school their junior year in March, and for the most part, more than 70 percent never returned to the building until graduation.
About 30 percent chose to come back in person for a few short weeks, but by and large it was a class that spent one-third of their high school careers at home in their bedrooms, at the kitchen table, glued to a laptop and missing some of the most important memory-makers of high school – like the Senior Prom.
One thing they were afforded, however, was the ability to stage a fun Senior Week and a traditional graduation in person at the Stadium. The Independent caught up to several members of the senior class before graduation to find out how they made it and what they thought of being able to have a commencement ceremony that was very much in question until only about three weeks ago.
“It’s been very difficult,” said Senior Melany Fagundes. “I lost my grandmother in the pandemic and my boyfriend’s relative too. It was tough to focus day in and day out at home. I stayed strong with my faith in God and that’s really the only thing that pulled me through.” Senior Raquel DaSilva said the pandemic, like it or not, will shape her generation in ways that will stretch years into the future.
“I think it’s definitely changed our perspective in life on everything,” she said. “I think it will help people appreciate the opportunities that are offered in school. Some school activities might have seemed boring or not worth the time before the pandemic, but I think we will be up for anything now and willing to participate in any opportunity because we know we could lose all opportunities overnight.” McKenzie Bova said she is very grateful to be able to graduate in a ceremony with her family. As the first in her family to graduate high school, not being able to have a ceremony was going to rob her, and her parents, of a very proud moment.
“I’m excited I’ll be the first person to graduate high school in my family,” said Bova, who noted she enjoyed and thrived in remote schooling. “My parents weren’t able to finish high school so it’s important to graduate and to be able to have them there with me. I wasn’t sure if that was going to be able to happen until recently.” While most seniors said they remained remote even after being given the option to return to school this month, some decided to come back for the short period of time before the end of school.
Twin sisters Macayla and Alyssa Bessler said they chose to come back in person, even though it was only a short time, so they could get some closure with friends, teachers and even the school building they hadn’t been to for 15 months. “We talked about it and decided to return,” said Alyssa. “
We didn’t know what it would be like. It was a transition and it wasn’t long, but we were able to see for the first time a lot of people we hadn’t seen in months.” Said Macayla, “We feel 100 percent that we got closure on our senior year.
I feel like it was a difficult year to get through, but being able to come back and see friends and teachers and students we hadn’t seen in such a long time. It helped to give the closure that maybe the seniors didn’t get last year.” Senior Marc Oliver said there are a lot of things that will change for him, and he hoped that next year’s seniors will have a better year than his class did. “It is so awesome to be able to have a graduation,” he said. “It’s been a hard year. This is my first time doing virtual school.
I think it was pretty good. I’m still in a bit of shock by it, but I appreciate the staff and all they did. They did a very good job. I hope the next seniors can have a better year.
One thing I will take with me is even though they lifted the ban on masks, I’ll probably still continue to wear a mask at times because I think it prevents you from getting a lot of illnesses like the flu.”
Oliver said while there are a lot of things they missed out on, he said having a Senior Week and graduation brought back some of the spirit and enthusiasm he remembers from other graduating classes that came before the pandemic. “I didn’t really think I’d be able to have graduation, but when I found out I was so happy to be able to come and I think the other students should look forward to it,” he said. “Even though it’s different, and things have been difficult, it’s still the same spirit and enthusiasm.”