Valuable lessons emerge from a senior year transformed by a pandemic

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Valuable lessons emerge from a senior year transformed by a pandemic

April 04, 2021 - 16:30
The commentary below represents the ideas, observations and opinions of the author.

Senior year is supposed to be the best year of high school, right? Well not for the class of 2021. This year I am a senior at Homewood-Flossmoor High School and COVID-19 really screwed up my hopes for having the best senior year ever. 

A little over a year ago our world was struck by a disease like no other. Society was put on lockdown and schools were forced to move classes online. Well you know... you lived it. We all thought the class of 2020 was missing out big time because prom and graduation were virtual, but the class of 2021 didn’t know what was about to hit them. 

In July or August, I came to the realization that my senior year was not going to be normal. The Kedzie Krazies were not going to assemble for football games or basketball games, I wasn’t going to be walking the path with my friends, and school dances were definitely a no-go. 

Honestly, I was never someone who loved going to school dances and football games, but I didn’t realize how much fun those events really were until we didn’t have them anymore. It made me cherish all of the memories I made during my first three years of high school. 

This was definitely not the senior year I was hoping for, but it’s the one I got. I was determined to make the most of it. I continued to play sports and do the activities that brought me joy. 

I would be lying if I said remote learning has been easy. At the beginning of the year, it was hard to find the motivation to log into my computer and join my classes. I constantly found myself thinking “what’s the point?” I was struck with senioritis on the first day of school and that was hard to shake. The only thing that got me motivated was the hope that we would soon be back in the building. 

As the school year progressed and December approached, I lost hope that I would ever see the hallowed halls of Homewood-Flossmoor High School again. I continued to hope and pray that we would be back in the building to wrap up the year. Nevertheless, students have been going into the building the past month now and it feels so great to be back. I never thought I would be so excited to walk into school. My first day back to school was one of the best days I have had in a long time. 

Walking into that building for the first time in over a year felt so strange. As I walked into the building I was overwhelmed with joy and then I saw the emptiness of the hallways. I was walking around the building and it felt like I was the only student in the entire school. Though the school felt so empty; it also felt so full at the same time. Full of excitement and a new normal. 

My teachers’ smiles were so big you could see it through their masks as they greeted their students for the first time this year. I sat at my desk in one of my classes and I thought to myself “how could you have ever dreaded coming to school?” I took for granted the stability and joy school gave me. The stability of a routine and the joy my peers and teachers gave to me. 

It’s crazy to think it took an entire year to get us back into the building, but I know I will cherish the next 50 days I have left at Homewood-Flossmoor High School. 

I know I won’t have prom and graduation won’t look normal, but to learn in the same room as my teachers and peers is enough for me. This year I saw the strength of my peers, my teachers, and myself. A strength I didn’t even know was inside of me. We are all coming out of this pandemic stronger and fiercer individuals. 

This year has taught me a whole slew of lessons. The most important one I learned is life is short, and it is fragile.  My last year of high school was bulldozed by a global pandemic none of us saw coming. But this pandemic has shown me the importance of living in the moment and being grateful for what I have. I was able to play the sports I love, meet with my clubs virtually, and get back into the building.  These are memories I will never take for granted. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade my senior year for a normal one. 
Emma Murphy of Homewood is the editor-in-chief of H-F’s Voyager newspaper.  She will attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the fall.