A Senior Year Stolen

Class of 2021 Mourns What Could Have Been, Finds Ways to Hope


Madeline Wendrowski

Seniors Christine Duong, Sophia Nguyen, and Kayla Nguyen attend a socially distanced senior event on the school basketball court.

Max Miracle, Editor-in-Chief

They remember the last time they heard the school bell ring; the last time they stepped foot inside the building; the last time they lived in a world where prom and graduation were guaranteed. The Class of 2021 remembers all too well the day their normal senior year died.

For many, March 12, 2020 feels like a lifetime ago. “I went to school just like normal,” said Robert Martin (12). “I didn’t think about it. And we never went back.”

It’s been almost a year since then—a year that was supposed to be special for the Class of 2021. But covid-19 has thwarted their plans to celebrate the end of high school. “Maybe waiting until senior year to start going to homecoming and prom was a bad idea,” said Rami Benhamida (12).

Senior year of high school is built up by countless coming-of-age movies and is widely anticipated for its milestones, but not in the age of pandemic. “There are senior traditions you see people do when you’re an underclassman that you look forward to,” said Class of 2021 President Jack Child (12). “There’s graduation, running into the pep rallies, wearing all black on spirit days. We never got that sense of dominion over the school.”

So with many school events canceled, many seniors have adapted with unofficial celebrations. On the first day of this school year, dozens of masked seniors attended a socially-distanced “senior sunrise” atop a local parking garage. And fake homecomings, or “focos,” rose in popularity last fall as students gathered with friends in small groups to take pictures and enjoy food.

And even with more than half the school year over, there are still plans developing for more senior celebrations—both official and unofficial. “Every year the seniors go on this Philly cheesesteak run with their friends during a school day in the spring,” said Morgan Nguyen (12). “You drive to Philadelphia, buy a cheesesteak sandwich, and make it back before the school day is over. I’m definitely going.”

As for official events, Class of 2021 leaders are advocating for permission for both traditional and novel celebration ideas to give seniors the sort of sendoff that last year’s senior class did not receive. 

“Events like prom and graduation help bring us a sense of closure,” said Class of 2021 Sponsor Paul Naanou. “I talk to a lot of teachers who say ‘I don’t feel like I ever said bye to the Class of 2020; I feel like they’re going to come back into the building.’ Because we didn’t have that typical, ceremonial moment of ‘you’re moving on to the next step.’”

While county officials have indicated that they will wait on approving major events like prom or graduation until more information about the pandemic’s course is available, they have authorized monthly senior celebrations held outdoors on school grounds—the first being a tennis court senior social on Feb. 12.

But regardless of what’s allowed in these final few months, some seniors suggest adopting an optimistic mindset, and seeking fulfillment in the extracurriculars and activities that are available rather than dwelling on those that are not. 

“Take advantage of the things we do have and get involved virtually,” said Jack Child. “It’s not the same, but it’s something.”