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Advice to the Class of 2021 - From People That Understand...

Updated: Jan 9, 2021

In 6 short months, it will be time for the Class of 2021 to turn their tassel. What a senior year it has been! You have experienced a senior year like no other, and you have lived to tell about it. The only other ones that can really understand what you have missed out on as a senior class is the Class of 2020. Although they only missed a semester, they understand what it means to be a high school senior during a pandemic. As a parent of a 2021 senior, I know that this year's senior class has missed out on so much, and we are expecting to have restrictions throughout their spring semester as well. It is not fair to miss your senior year, but what can we do? How can we help? What can we control?

During the Spring of 2020, I was a high school principal, and I did everything I could to hold onto the senior experiences - spring sports, prom, senior nights, awards, graduation, etc. However, COVID won each battle by chiseling away at the norms of these events and either cancelled or altered all of them. As a principal I was crushed, but even being a part of the experience, I could never speak to how the seniors felt about what they have lost. Therefore, to make this post really speak to the Class of 2021, I enlisted help from the Class of 2020. I asked them to share advice that they had for you, the Class of 2021.

"Begin planning for your future as early as possible during your senior year! Application deadlines come faster than you realize! It is important to be aware and fully prepared for these next steps! Attend everything that you possibly can! Even if you don’t want to admit it, you will miss high school!"

-Taryn, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

"This is still your year to make the most of your first step into becoming your own person. Always think for yourself. You don’t have to rush on what you want to do in life or who you want to be, but you have to narrow down your choices and actions which leads into where you want to go. Find somewhere to go to college where you think you’ll have the best mind suitable for your inner self. Even with the pandemic, there’s no difference in how you move forward into life itself - be happy, love who you are, always go for the higher standard (even though you could fail). You’ll have upsets, but to be the best, you have to go through upsets sometimes. Have a great 2021 spring semester and let time, your heart, and most importantly God himself, guide you through your amazing journey. I know the class of 2021 is going to be great! Enjoy this year, and have something to look back and laugh at when it is all over and done!"

- Cortezz, Murray State University, Div 1 Athlete - Football

"Never give up and keep pushing through whatever may be thrown at you. You can do it as long as you keep being the best you can be. Take those senior photos, decorate your car, make shirts or crowns or whatever you want! Still make it special even if you can’t physically be in school right now!"

- Taylor, Edgecombe Community College

"Keep your head down and push through that online work because it's not going to end in high school. Everything is online, even jobs. If you aren't willing to push through some homework assignments because you find them boring and monotonous, or you feel they are too hard without a teacher to hold your hand through it, then you need to take a step back and figure out what you really want next in your life. You've got a lot of potential. Each and every graduate can do something great, so find that resolve and do those assignments. The work ethic it'll teach you will put you above others in the world out there. Stop looking at everything you think you're missing out on. We lost a lot of the same things. You've got to realize that this makes every meeting with friends, every gathering, every in-person class, and every open sporting event extremely valuable. The "senior experience" is what you make it. Don't define your self and experience by some movie example or other person's ideas. Take that extra time you have to learn new skills at home and help you and your friends learn out-of-school skills. Everything's going to be fine because you define your experience and its value."

- Landon, Doane University, NAIA Athlete - Wrestling

"Keep your eyes on your original plan that you had laid out for your future, and don’t give up just because something jumps in your way... learn to overcome the giants that try to stop you from doing what you want. Find ways to better yourself as a person, stay away from negative energy, and place yourself around people who have the same vision/goal as you."

- Drake, Employed Full Time, Steel Construction

"Enjoy every second you get of your senior year. A lot of the class of 2020 didn’t get to say one last goodbye to teachers and friends when we closed down. So, make sure to savor every moment because it goes by faster than you’d like. Make sure you talk to your teachers because you’ll miss them a lot and appreciate what they’ve done for you. Try not to dwell on the things you missed and enjoy the opportunities that you do get to have like being able to go to class spring semester (possibly) and seeing your friends at school for the last couple of months of high school. Enjoy sitting in the parking lot in the morning and the talks you’d have with your friends because I’d do anything to sit in that parking lot again!!"

- Grace, Pitt Community College/East Carolina University, RIBN Program

"Enjoy what activities you are allowed to have, even if it’s just going to class. I know all throughout high school classmates would always say “this is stupid” or “I’m not going to prom” and just diminish the activities that some of us had been looking forward for so long. Never turn down the opportunity to go in-school and out of school activities."

- Anna Grace, Employed Full Time, College Freshman Fall 2021

" Enjoy every second of senior year that you do have and never take it for granted. Appreciate the little things, and try to keep in touch with people even if you’re not seeing them in person every week."

- Anna Scott, East Carolina University,

Honors College

"It’s not easy to get through the “Senior Year” that you have looked forward to since freshman year by sitting in your bed or on the couch attending class. However, take it all in because once it’s gone, you will miss the short time you do get to see your friends. If you play a sport and are getting to see people, don’t take it for granted. Those are the hardest times to move on from. It’s hard and seems like it’s never ending, but when it’s gone there is no going back. With that being said, take in all the little moments and hold onto the memories you get to make, and after all, remember you pushed through and graduated during a pandemic! Still enjoy the moments you can with the restrictions. If you have a small friend group that hasn’t seen each other, get together and do something that allows you to still follow restrictions. Go put that prom dress/tux on and take pictures just like you would for your senior prom. If you are playing a sport take in every game and enjoy your senior night. Make your last ride worth it, and leave nothing behind. Take your senior pictures and enjoy the small things you can do leading up to graduation!"

- Anonymous, Penn Foster College

"Work hard. Don’t slack on your online classes, even though it’s easy to just let things go. My personal planner is my best friend and helps keep me on track better than anything else. I know you’re supposed to social distance, but you should get together with your friends outside of school (still following the restrictions) to have dinner or just go on an adventure to the beach for a weekend. Make the time and memories while you still can."

- Claire, East Carolina University

"It’s all gonna work out so there’s no need to get worried or worked up about it. Enjoy what you can instead of getting down about what you can’t. Make the best of the things that are still offered due to the restrictions, and enjoy what you can of your senior year. You don’t get another one."

- Davis, Edgecombe Community College and Employed Full Time in Construction

So, my takeaway from the advice these seniors gave - CARPE DIEM! In six short months, you will be graduating and moving on to the next phase of your life. Restrictions are still in place, and they will limit your ability to have a normal senior year. However, focus on the things that you can do, and enjoy every minute. Get creative on how to celebrate your accomplishments and focus on preparing for "what's next." Above all - continue to work hard and finish strong so you can be proud of what you have accomplished during one of the most challenging academic years in history!

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