From the stress of the impending independence of adulthood to the relaxation and excitement of Senior Sunrise, senior year offers many opportunities that differ rather greatly from the other high school years. But senior year has not been the same for the past three classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the events and experience of senior year have been no expeception.
“Well I think for us, it’s a special kind of thing because senior year definitely kind of is different from sophomore and junior year in the sense that we’re gonna have a full year in person–COVID kind of really changed things for us,” senior Siyu Cao said.
Seniors at Clements High School, and at high schools around the country, often focus so much on their future that they need events and avenues for relaxation, and those events and avenues have become the hallmarks of the years.
“This is just the big celebration year,” senior Kate Kennington said. “I personally didn’t choose to take as challenging of classes. I really just chose classes that interested me more as kind of the reward of working hard for the past three years. This is kind of my last opportunity to spend time with my friends so I kind of chose classes that reflected that.”
But it’s not just the events that change during senior year, as the classes and experiences that seniors are a part of often affect how their year goes, as well as the results of each sport affecting the year.
“At least for my extracurriculars, we were at our peak for football with making playoffs and band making state, I felt like it was good, and at the same time it was hard, because adjusting back into the normal after not being at school for like two years, you know, getting back into the groove of things,” senior Weza Pereira said. “It’s different but I enjoy it.”
Sports aren’t the only extracurriculars that can affect the difference between a senior’s, or any student’s, experience from their first semester to their second, though, as many fine arts and clubs are competitive as well and can determine the amount of events one might have to participate in.
“Spring semester is definitely more relaxed,” senior Michelle Ramirez said. “I feel like [in the] fall semester, there was just a lot going on, especially since [I’m] in marching band, so [I had] football games, pep rallies and contests, that kind of stuff.”
A student’s senior year is also defined by the plans they make for their futures beyond graduation. The necessary preparation for their lives after high school often determines what experiences a senior might choose to participate in, and their spring semester may differ from their fall because of the differences in preparation needed during each one.
“Fall semester was definitely more focused on college; you could definitely tell everyone’s just stressing about college,” Cao said. “Now that it’s spring semester, people are getting their acceptions, it’s a lot more laid back. I get to go home, and I don’t have to worry about school or applications.”
Often, seniors take more opportunities to have fun and make memories after they’ve finished their college applications so that they don’t have the overwhelming deadlines creeping over their shoulders and preventing them from enjoying their time as teenagers.
“I think a lot of festivities, the hype of football season and all the pep rallies, and all the main events welcoming everyone back to school kind of just carried throughout the entire semester,” Kennington said. “I think that paired with applying for colleges and kind of really having the realisation hit us that we need to be doing these things for our future plans after high school. This semester is more just kind of the result of all that, so we’re kind of settling back down and we’ve kind of dealt with a lot of the crazy of figuring out what our plans are for next year, and we’re kind of in a more accepting state of mind.”
But the stress of the preparation often pays off even during the end of senior year, and makes the last few moments of being in high school even more enjoyable.
“I know a lot of kids were really focused on getting their college applications in, and so that just kind of added a little bit of pressure, but it’s also been very rewarding, seeing the payoff of all of that and seeing everyone’s reactions to getting into schools,” Kennington said.