Last year, current seniors struggle with changes to school year

At the beginning of every August, the drive for starting a new school year kicks into gear. Although the 2020-2021 school year started a bit differently, seniors had some time to adapt to this year from the e-learning experience last spring, as well as the five-month long summer.

Not only are some of this year’s seniors suffering by missing the beginning of their school year, but 2020 seniors are struggling from moving to last year’s e-learning to a new year in college.

“The way school ended made the start of college feel like it was dragging along,” 2020 graduate Collin Muller said.

With all of these different changes to the schedule and extracurricular activities being limited, there are many things that seniors missed out on last year and this year.

“I missed out on a lot of valuable classes that just weren’t the same over e-learning,” senior Jacob McNiel said. “It was weird not going to school, but it was a learning experience for everyone who had a part in all of the learning that took place.”

Not only did the seniors miss out on things academically, but they also missed out on the opportunity to be involved in extracurricular activities.

“I didn’t get to perform in Mr. WHS. I did it my junior year and it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” 2020 graduate Riley Matthews said. “I wanted to do it this year, and I had a great performance planned out, but wasn’t able to do the activity.”

Some of the most disappointing aspects for seniors and juniors last year were missing events like Prom and graduation.

“The seniors still got their Prom, and they also got their junior prom. Now we might not get our Senior Prom and if we don’t, we’ll have had no Prom at all,” senior Mason Kauffeld said.

As for the graduates who did experience Prom, there were many mixed feelings about the event, but most were thankful for the chance to have some sort of dance.

“Personally, I was really happy that it happened and that others out there were willing to help us get the chance to have our final Prom,” Matthews said.

Because of the delay to the events, the community and the school district wanted to give the seniors more of a closure with events like the Senior Parade.

“We can’t really ask for much. It was a good experience for what we had,” Matthews said. “I think the effort that everyone made was what really made it special. In a way, yes, it did make up for all the things we missed for graduation.”

With all the changes this year, in school and out, the parents had a lot to go through as well.

“They stayed supportive. They didn’t really have much of an opinion on the matter,” Matthews said. “I think they felt bad for me not getting the same experience, but personally, I thought it was cool to be a one in a million situation.”

With these changes, though, comes a lot of varying opinions from students, teachers and parents.

“Having the different days of when you can go,” McNiel said, “I understand it’s better to track if someone gets COVID, but there are a ton of friends I don’t see very often due to the difference in days.”

Another aspect of the pandemic is how it is going to affect their transition to college.

“I feel that it made it more complicated because now colleges don’t know exactly how to approach the situation,” Matthews said. “High school ending the way it did actually affected me because I was inside and away from people so much.”

With the transition becoming difficult, some people’s post-high school plans were even altered.

“I wasn’t able to travel or visit out of town people as much. I didn’t go out of the house either,” Matthews said. “There were a lot of friends I lost connections with because I wasn’t able to see them for so long.”

These concerns are now starting to become a possibility for the 2021 seniors as well. 

“The way this past year has altered the college experience exceeds any of the past,” McNiel said. “It’s made so many things change due to COVID. It will change the way I go through college and post-high school.”

Through all of the unknown, one of the things students can do is look at the bright side.

“Keep your head up and make the most with what you can. Don’t spend your time being sad; spend your time finding ways to make the situation better,” Matthews said. “My advice in general is keep an open mind with everything. Don’t be afraid to try new things.”