(This article is provided by guest writer and Commander-in-She summer intern Ellie Powers).
If anyone had asked me earlier this year what I thought Senior year would look like, I’d probably have given some vague response like, “Oh, I don’t know, hopefully good,” when in reality I’ve had this year mapped out since I graduated middle school. I knew what I wanted it to look and to be like. I was on board for smooth sailing.
At my school, expectations are based on traditions such as the Senior Girl First Day of School Dress (to all the underclassmen– if you even think of wearing a dress the first day– run), and others such as decorating your senior car, making/buying matching backpacks with your friends, and taking advantage of first-period study halls by sleeping in because Senior privileges allow you to leave/enter the school during open periods.
Along with tradition, I was ready for the extra opportunities that come from being at the top of the school. As a volleyball player, the three years playing on the team prior had me prepared and excited to step up as a team captain. I’m ready to lead, and support, and build a family relationship among the program. As a class officer, I was ready to plan events and activities to make our Senior year one to remember.
Personally, I was most excited to be able to go to school dances like homecoming and prom. And dress up for spirit days and pep rallies and be able to enjoy and celebrate my final year with all my friends and classmates who I’ve known for years.
I had had my Senior year navigated. I was being pulled in the right direction; The tides on my side. Land Ho!
Then, the winds of change. A storm hit — one we’ll call Coronavirus– and made ferocious waves in the easy breezy waters. It came out of the blue, and we didn’t have time to batten down the hatches. The unexpectedness of the virus left us all uncertain if we would ever walk into high school again. It completely rocked the boat.
Would I be able to show off my seniority in my cute dress and decorated car and matching backpack? Would “senior privileges” have any meaning if everyone is at home watching their class in bed? Regardless of being a captain or not, will I even ever play volleyball with my teammates/friends/volleyball family again?
For a while, it felt like we’d been left high and dry. No land in sight — lost at sea.
At first, I allowed my vision and goals to drift away. I was playing into all the complaints from my peers and Twitter posts that labeled the Class of 2021 the “hopeless cause”. All anyone had to say was “Poor Class of 2021, they won’t have a Senior Year.”
But what really is “Senior year”? Sure, due to the situation it definitely won’t be how I, and most of my classmates, had originally planned when we set sail a couple of years ago, but I refuse to just abandon ship.
It’s time we trim our sails. We can’t control the winds that blow, but we can adjust to the conditions by making the most of what we can.
It may be unconventional, but why should a change in course mean we’re all going to drown? We’ve just got to accept and adapt to the new environment; remap our mindset.
We may not have the traditional first day of school, walking in with all of our friends, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still dress up and buy our backpacks and drive around in obnoxiously decorated cars. If school is online, showing up to school late may not be a senior privilege, but what about the privilege of already taking fewer credits than underclassman, so we really only have two to three classes a day anyway?
As for volleyball and prom and all the other school activities that are usually held, only time can tell whether or not we will be able to enjoy them. But despite what happens, I don’t want my senior year to be defined by pessimism and self-pity. In the open ocean, there isn’t a straight, plain sailing journey. There are strong currents and storms.
We may not be on board for a straight, smooth sailing journey across clear blue waters, but being in uncharted territory is something that we’ll remember forever. Let’s navigate it together.
Ellie Powers is a high school senior and member of the Class of 2021 interested in pursuing studies in media and communications.
Read other Commander-in-She internship guest posts.