The Class of 2021 has had a crazy year. They’ve had to go to school amidst a pandemic. The end of their junior year, as well as the majority of their senior year was taken from them. They haven’t been able to experience normal senior events like prom, senior sunrise and sunset, senior ditch day, grad night, or other school based senior events. They also haven’t been acknowledged the way they wish they would’ve been.
The majority of seniors this year have the same feelings. Some of the seniors feel that the Class of 2020 was better acknowledged for their struggle despite the fact that they only lost a few months of their senior year. Some seniors think that the Class of 2021 is not getting the proper effort from their district and school for the year that they’ve lost.
Sixteen seniors filled out a google form. Out of those sixteen seniors, 56.3% of them said they were upset about the lack of senior events and 18.8% of respondents said they were indifferent about the circumstances and situation. And the rest of respondents said they were either angry, sad and disappointed, in the middle, or they don’t really care.
When asked why the respondents felt this way, there were a variety of different answers. One senior who said they were upset about the circumstances said, “I understand we’re in a pandemic, but I feel like schools aren’t doing everything they can to make this year memorable, in a good way, for seniors.”
Another senior who was also upset, had some very strong feelings about the subject. “If having social events and gatherings is seen as unsafe, then why are our classrooms at 50% capacity?! It’s obvious the school/district views us as nothing but pawns to grant them more money!” They continued, “If they truly cared about the mental health and well being of their students, then they wouldn’t have changed everything within the last two months of school.” They finished their thoughts with a frowny face.
One individual who felt indifferent about the situation said, “At this point, I feel like there’s no point in trying to have an event when it’s not going to be fun due to COVID guidelines.”
Although the schools have tried to put on a couple of events, like Prom On Wheels (this event was cancelled) or a senior drive thru event (one was put on by ERHS). These events are nothing similar to what normal seniors would experience during a school year. Some seniors don’t feel like these substitute events are enough to measure up to the normal events that would usually take place.
Some other responses as to why people feel the way they do about the lack of senior events include: “It’s disappointing that we’ve gone through 4 years of high school and we have no way to celebrate that. We can’t even create memories that we can look back on.”
Another senior said, “I was really looking forward to experiencing all the senior events with my friends, but knowing it might not be possible is saddening.”
Some individuals are more upset about the fact that the districts have made so many changes to the school schedule in the past few weeks. It has disrupted the new “normal” that has been created over the past year. Many students have gotten used to this “normal” and did not look forward to going back to the way things were. Even though the new schedule is not back to normal, it’s a lot closer compared to anything else we’ve experienced in the last year. “I just want to graduate already,” one senior said. That is a common feeling amongst the senior class.
When asked if seniors thought schools were doing everything they could to provide these seniors events for the graduating class, 62.5% said no. And 25% of respondents said maybe. One student even said that they might be trying, but they are not prioritizing.
When they were asked why they felt this way, there were lots of different responses. One senior said, “I think they were more focused on freshmen this year and allowing them to make a smooth transition from middle school to high school.”
Another student who doesn’t attend school in the Corona-Norco Unified School District explained, “I think the school district is highly content with doing very little for our senior class. With an in person graduation, they believe that should be enough to satisfy us, therefore not needing a prom, grad night, senior sunrise/sunset, etc.”
Eleanor Roosevelt High School’s ASB President, Annie Nguyen, shared her thoughts on the lack of senior events. Being part of senior class, she thinks the lack of senior events is fitting given the circumstances of the entire school year. “I’m more so grateful for the opportunities we do have, like a chance at an in person graduation and being able to see my teachers and classmates again.”
Nguyen was also asked what she would say to the students who are struggling with the idea of not having any senior events. She explained that, “Everyone’s feelings are valid. It’s such a difficult time that we are going through right now, and the senior class especially is not only letting go of their high school experience, but they’re letting go of it with big parts of it missing. Something I’d like to address though is the behind the scenes work done by Admin and ASB that has been put into putting up something for the seniors.”
She continued, “Our school leaders are trying to put on unique experiences that accommodate social distancing guidelines, are affordable, and aim to give seniors some sense of closure from high school.”
She closed with, “Whatever happens, we’re still going to graduate and that in itself is a celebration.” She empathizes with the student body during this hard time. She also hopes that “everyone can celebrate and appreciate themselves a little extra for getting through this tough time.”
This article is not meant to attack any schools or any districts in any way. We understand that this is a difficult time for everybody and everyone is trying to figure out how to handle this crazy time. With that being said, the seniors have thoughts and opinions. Those students need to be heard even with all the craziness going on.