The Class of 2021 continues to persevere together despite major changes


The Class of 2020 got the rug pulled out from underneath them; everything about the last quarter of their senior year was up in the air and seemingly pushed aside. Before they knew it, the seniors were moving onto college, and a new group of seniors took over: the Class of 2021. Senior Delaney Niswonger is a part of the Class of 2021, and she felt not only empathy for the grade above her but also her own peers as they have to experience their senior year socially distanced.

“We might have less of our school year and fun events than the seniors before us,” Delaney said, “but those seniors’ school year was taken. It was a complete surprise. All of a sudden, they didn’t have a graduation, a senior all-night party, or a candlelight [ceremony]; it was just such a fast change. In some ways, that can seem worse, but [other] some ways, it’s hard for us, too, because a lot of our fun events have been canceled.”

COVID-19 seems to be altering everything, and not just for these previous seniors and current ones. FHC has been split in half and separated into two different groups, students have to wear masks all the time, and they have to try their best to socially distance from their peers. 

Being socially distant can have huge effects on socialization causing the seniors now to be mentally distanced as well. From an outsider’s perspective, the senior classes always seem to be inclusive and appreciative of their last year of high school altogether. But with the split groups of kids in school, it can be hard to stay on the same page and still create that sense of community.

“It definitely makes sense why we are splitting the [number] of students in half,” Delaney agrees. “But it has been a little different and disappointing that we won’t be able to be all together because we can’t have that sense of community in our grade.”

I think in some ways, even though we are still divided, we as a school feel really united because we are all going through the same thing, and we are all there for each other.”

The sense of community is what gets seniors through their last year of high school; they are all doing it all together. Even though they aren’t all physically together, this year they have something completely different in common: experiencing a global pandemic.

“I think in some ways,” Delaney said, “even though we are still divided, we as a school feel really united because we are all going through the same thing and we are all there for each other.”

COVID-19 has a variety of negative effects, but when Delaney looks at it the right way, she also finds positives to the situation. Something that has come out of COVID-19 is the new hybrid schedule, and even though most students feel like they have too much homework on their off days, there are still things seniors are finding enjoyable about the hybrid schedule.

“Something that I really like about the hybrid schedule is that there is a day in between to recuperate and get caught up on schoolwork,” Delaney said. “I get to go to bed a lot earlier [because of the hybrid schedule]. It’s a little thing, but it really has improved my work ethic, my productivity, and my attitude. Having that time with the hybrid schedule has really helped with just being more motivated.”

This new schedule gives students more time to get their work done, which, in turn, also gives the students more opportunities to put their best effort into their classwork. Along with seeing the positives for school, there are other good things coming out of the changes made.

“I love [the hybrid schedule] so much,” senior Enya Burrow said. “It gives me more time to be focused on my school work, but I have more free time, and I can also focus on sports and my friends.”

A lot of students thought that the hybrid schedule was going to be a hassle and not something they were going to enjoy, but Enya says she not only has more time for other things outside of school but that she is also enjoying the freedom handed to her with off days.

“It was really unexpected how much better [the hybrid schedule] would be,” Enya said. “I definitely thought it would be much harder, especially for the teachers giving us homework online and in school. But this has been so much easier, and I wasn’t expecting that to happen.”

Being positive during such a negative time can be difficult, but FHC’s seniors are doing their best to keep spirits high by staying connected and being supportive of everyone around them. Through these little actions, they believe they can make their last year of high school count.

For Enya, staying connected has been the hardest part for her; the online day schoolwork can take up a lot of time, and these days can almost feel like a barrier between students, creating a balance of positives and negatives to the hybrid schedule.

At the start of October, FHC will be switching back to its typical schedule with all students in the building every day. And while Delaney and Enya are loving the hybrid schedule, senior Nicholas Ho is excited about being reunited with his friends in the next couple of weeks.

“I’m excited to see my friends that are in the Group B schedule,” Nicholas explained. “I haven’t experienced much inclusiveness because I’ve only been able to see people at school twice a week.” 

As this new schedule will bring both Group A and Group B back together, seniors will be presented with a pseudo-unification, sprouting from the fact that their last year together is, in plain terms, an experiment.

But beyond this idea of reunification and the lasts of senior year, the Class of 2021 is also faced with their future. For Nicholas, college is in his plans beyond high school, and despite the pandemic, he remains unworried about the COVID-19 changes.

“I plan on going to college,” Nicholas said. “But I’m not concerned about going to school during COVID-19 because my sister is doing college all online, and my brother is doing a hybrid schedule, and it doesn’t seem too bad.” 

Before the pandemic, college was already a stressful topic for seniors, but now, with the extra safety precautions and all the unknowns, Delaney and Nicholas have found that the best route is staying positive. This upbeat attitude in the face of adversity is a shared trait among the senior class, and with it in mind, Delaney is confident that her future college will do a great job adhering to the guidelines for a safe education.

“I’m hoping, and we never know what’s going to happen, that COVID-19 will have settled down by the time I go to college,” Delaney said. “But I’m not concerned [about going to college during the pandemic] if my school feels confident that they are making the right choices, focusing on the science, and really taking in other people’s consideration. I feel confident that if they are going through with the right guidelines, then I will be safe.”

Delaney has found that this optimism is the way to survive a pandemic and everything one brings about. Being a senior has always been something she has looked forward to, and not even a global pandemic can diminish the importance of this final year.

“I think the idea of being a senior is still as exciting [as I thought it would be],” Delaney said, “because it’s our last year of high school; it’s almost like we’re at the top.”