Members of the class of 2020 give their blessings and advice to the class of 2021

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As class of 2021’s senior year begins to dwindle, members of class of 2020 give their advice and support to their successors.

Out of the dozens of past royals, John Courcy and Sarah Tiggleman, members of the class of 2020, are the only two FHC alumni to ever have been crowned Prom King and Queen during a global pandemic. 

I sometimes stare at my crown still in disbelief that, out of all the wonderful people in my grade, I won,” Sarah said.

Despite the excitement of their coronation, however, Sarah and John’s senior year was anything but crown-worthy. As the first class in decades to graduate during a national emergency, the class of 2020 lost numerous memories due to something completely out of their control. Though graduating during a pandemic is a seemingly insurmountable feat, the class of 2020 has the perfect advice for the class of 2021 on navigating these murky waters. 

For John, one of the toughest parts of quarantine was not only learning how to keep himself accountable in school but also having to learn how to navigate maintaining friendships without the daily interactions provided by in-person instruction.

Not having a schedule made it super easy to put off seeing my friends,” John said. “Don’t do what I did. Stay active and keep in touch with your friends.”

With countless regulations in place to keep communities safe, figuring out ways to actually see friends without actually being in the same room as them is still a struggle today. What made all the difference for 2020 graduate Maggie Zorn, though, was being creative and open-minded when it came to finding ways to communicate with her peers.

I found there were a lot of virtual opportunities to connect, and I even had friends sending me letters which were really fun,” Maggie said.

For Maggie, positivity and optimism were necessities in cherishing her senior year despite its flaws. As an athlete, watching her senior water polo season slip from her fingers was devastating, but when choosing between sulking over her losses or finding the silver lining, she found ways to appreciate what she still had.

Maggie believes that being cooperative and giving grace to those in charge is crucial in making the most of every moment in a year where every experience is a final one.

“Do everything you can to have a positive attitude about how the school is handling things,” Maggie said. “They want to give you a prom and graduation and candlelight ceremony, so you just have to be accommodating and understand that they are on your side.”

Similar to Maggie, 2020 alumna Maya Gulick also lost an important season of her senior year, and she agrees that working across the aisle with the administrative staff and uniting with the community allowed her to end a bittersweet year on a high note. 

“I was really excited [for] my first musical; everybody worked really hard on it,” Maya said. “That, to me, was the most heartbreaking [loss] of them all. But, we did at least get graduation eventually, and I think the teaching staff and superintendent staff did a really good job of trying to make things happen for us in the best possible way as safely as possible.”

What has helped Maya most in transitioning from high school to college during these times is following the advice of keeping a smile on her face despite all that’s being thrown her way. For Maya, there is still so much to be thankful for.

So, just keep your head held high and things will work out.”

— Maya Gulick

After spending more time with her family that she wouldn’t have been able to in regular circumstances, Maya believes that her college experience has been more successful because of her family’s extra support and company.

“I personally feel like I’m in the best place of my life, even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” Maya said. “Even though I’m at home, I’m very excited and happy for the new pathways that are going to happen. So, just keep your head held high and things will work out.”

For Sarah, on the other hand, what helped her greatly in getting closure on her senior year wasn’t moving on, but rather acknowledging the great things that came from the moments she spent in the halls of FHC. Although senior year is the moment when classes are supposed to come together, Sarah found that being grateful for the connections she already made was ultimately what got her through quarantine and set her up for a proper send off to college.

“My suggestion to make it through quarantine is to reminisce on the amazing memories you’ve made with your class,” Sarah said. “There are many more milestones to come, so don’t fret if this one isn’t perfect. Own your story because no one else gets one like yours.”

John agrees that bidding farewell to FHC is easiest after surrounding himself with positive influences even if he didn’t get as much time with his friends as he had bargained for. 

“Try to form a bubble with your friends, especially over the summer,” John said. “Unlike the class of 2020, you all have the benefit of knowing the risks of COVID. Plan accordingly, and just try to make the most of the situation while staying safe.”

Own your story because no one else gets one like yours.”

— Sarah Tiggleman

Although there is no foolproof plan to graduating in a moment of crisis and uncertainty, the class of 2021 has so much to look forward to. This is no one’s ideal senior year, but it simultaneously is everyone’s responsibility to create their own perfect senior year despite the circumstances. 

Maggie’s ultimate piece of advice puts it best:

“I would say you just have to try and make the best out of the situation,” Maggie said. “I know it’s horrible, and you feel like you’re being robbed of one of the most important times of your life, and you’re right, but you have to make the best [of it]. This is not going to be forever.”