What is Going to Happen to Seniors' Last Hurrah?
By: Sadiya Kherani
The month of May is a month designated to seniors and senior celebrations across the states. It contains prom, college announcements, senior traditions, and, of course, graduation. This year's graduating class is also the class of the pandemic, which means, no one knows what is going to happen with all these beloved senior traditions. A lot of students have come to terms with the fact that things will not be normal. Senior Lena Forbes remarks, “I became fully okay with the idea that we might not have a prom or the "normal" senior events. It is definitely sad to not get the full senior experience, but I would rather keep people safe and leave Covid behind us ASAP than try to make everything happen. All I know is that I wanted some kind of graduation, or way to celebrate the fact that we made it through high school.”
Alas, many high schools across the country are trying their best to celebrate seniors to the best of their abilities, including Wheaton North High School. Wheaton North’s plans right now are not completely set in stone, but they are starting to come together. After talking to activities director Ms. Nilles, her planning process and the work behind the end of senior year came to life. Although this year is far from normal, she explained that most of the seniors’ favorite traditions will still be happening, including: a senior sunrise picnic, powder puff, movie night, a version of prom, an in-person honors assembly, and, most importantly for many, in-person graduation held on the North football field. Ms. Nilles explained that she and her senior events committee have been working together on these plans since the first day of school explaining, “The hardest part is trying to keep the traditions...and please everybody.” As someone who has the job to give the seniors the closure they are looking for, it is hard to give everyone what they want, especially when nothing is normal. She assembled a group of parents, students, and staff to come together and make the end of senior year as good as it can be.
Things are indeed starting to come together for the seniors at North, as Ms. Nilles disclosed, but things will not be perfectly aligned with the past. Prom will have a no dancing rule in order to ensure safe distance for the attendees. But, it will have a formal optional dress code, games (which are still in the works), and an opportunity to spend time together as a whole class. Bleachers have been tapped up for safe sitting in preparation for sports games and as a rough draft for the audience layout at graduation. The senior assembly will be held in-person, for all virtual and hybrid students alike, on the football field. There is also a possibility of it being live-streamed to the rest of the school. It may not be the same, but Ms. Nilles wants her North seniors to know that “it’s about the seniors. We want to honor them. We are doing this for them.” Every person at the school cares about the seniors and wants to give them their best.
Everyone has been through a lot this year, but senior year for the class of 2021 is not over yet. Senior Syd Mark explains: “I want to use the remaining time I have left of my high school career to learn more, deepen my connection with my teachers, and spend as much time with friends and family as possible.” So, although the traditions are different, and the dream may have changed a little, the plans in the works may be just what the seniors need to get their closure, spend time with their friends, and stay safe, while leaving their senior year on a high note.
Sage Sorensen, a senior student brought in one of her favorite quotes to justify this situation for herself. She explained: “[It] is a simple expression by John Green, ‘it hurts because it mattered. We have something to miss because we had something to love, and even while the time has changed, I am grateful for the moments I can still share with my class and my school, whatever they may be, before I move on to start the next chapter of my life.”