Missing out on the “Senior Experience”


Courtesy of Mikyung Lee for NPR

As the deadly virus COVID-19 persists, the trek to get back into the classroom seems like an endless battle. Especially for seniors who have already missed out on paramount events, the lack of normality feels unbearable.

Riley Pietsch, Editor-in-Chief

Every quintessential coming-of-age movie portrays senior year of high school in the same light: walking on campus with a sense of confidence that could only stem from spending three full years in the same environment, now taking on the fourth and final year; knowing every face that walks by in the halls except for the seemingly young, unknown freshmen; and strong bonds with staff members that have formed over the years of taking a foreign language or elective course. 

From the moment I stepped onto the Yorba Linda High School campus, I have fantasized about what my senior year would entail. I could take easy classes, as my junior year filled with rigorous courses in hopes of impressing colleges would be over. My car would be parked in the designated lot exclusive to seniors, ridding us fourth-year students of the annoyance that comes with having to park with all other grades. Lunch would be spent off-campus with my friends, driving to Starbucks or Chick-fil-A because we could finally leave school to get food.

I have watched my two older sisters live out my dream senior year at YLHS, and I have spent the entirety of high school holding onto the fact that, I, too, would eventually gain all the perks of being a senior; however, this picture I created of my final year in high school has been dramatically tainted. 

COVID-19, the deadly virus currently plaguing the world, has entirely altered everyone’s lives, and for myself, has bereaved me of my envisioned senior year.

As students across the country left school back on March 13, most anticipated a 2-week leave, as that is what the YLHS administration, and most schools, told students. Quickly, it became obvious that the fight to combat COVID-19 would not be a simple battle, as hospitals began to exceed capacity and many started dying. While statistics ensured that this pandemic would persist for months, the class of 2021 still held tightly onto our hopes of returning to school. The 2020-2021 school year would not start until September, meaning there would be over 5 months for a scientific breakthrough to occur, but here I am in November, still quarantining at home. 

My coming-of-age-esque senior year is now me waking up three minutes before school starts, still sporting my pajamas from that night, to open my computer and learn through the video conferencing software Zoom. The most eventful occurrence during my school days is seeing my teacher’s pet walk by in the background of their screen or eavesdropping on someone’s awkward conversation with their mom because they forgot to turn their mic off. 

The infamous senior year portrayed in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off or Superbad showcased students attending class parties, living out what some would call the “best days of their lives” but as Shayda Roshdieh (12) confirmed, the only people she typically sees “consist of [her] Mom and Dad.” 

COVID-19 has undoubtedly ripped away the class of 2021’s dreams of a stereotypical senior year, leaving us with online learning and an eventual half-capacity in-person learning experience. Movies never considered the infestation of a deadly pandemic when filming iconic and memorable senior year experiences, so for those of us who have been burdened with these abnormal circumstances in such a significant time in our lives, the question “Why us?” can not help but be pondered. 

While it may feel as though we have been cursed with this unfair year, it does not discredit all the hard work we have poured into high school. Each and every class of 2021 student has worked intensely to get this far, and by overcoming these unconventional times that are the COVID-19 era, it only reiterates our classes’ obvious persistence. We may not get the senior year we have all dreamt of but we will demonstrate the lasting legacy the class of 2021 will represent: a class that did not let COVID-19 win.