Olivia Kahn, Grade 11, News Editor
On March 13th, juniors at the High School of American Studies went home unaware that they would not be going back to their beloved shack until they were seniors. This school year, due to the unprecedented challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the class of 2021 faces a senior year unlike any before.
From in-person cohorts to the college process, seniors have had to handle huge changes to typical school life. Sports seasons were canceled, classes went online, and club participation became virtual. There is also uncertainty surrounding traditional senior activities, such as prom and graduation.
A unique feature of HSAS is its small student body, and the number of students only got smaller as HSAS adjusted in-person schooling to follow safety and distancing guidelines. Before school went fully remote on November 18th, seniors who opted for the hybrid learning model attended school on alternating Wednesdays with a small group of their peers. "I really cherish any chance to be able to be in the building and see people, but there's no denying that it's not the same," said Alexis Guberman, a senior. She added that she is grateful that the school is doing the best they can despite the unforeseen circumstances.
The pandemic has also brought changes to school sports. This is a shocking letdown for seniors, who cannot play in their final year of high school athletics. "Having a senior night, and having a senior season, especially for basketball, is probably the hardest thing that I feel like I'm missing out on," said Guberman, who is on the basketball, softball, and bowling teams.
Club meetings also changed. Many clubs have started meeting virtually or stopped meeting altogether. The Student Government, which allows seniors to take a leadership role in the school community, transitioned smoothly to weekly Zoom meetings. "I think a lot of the club dynamic is up to how well the people work together, and I'm confident that student government is going to continue to be great," said Zoe Cho, a senior who is the vice president of the student body.
One thing at the forefront of seniors' minds is what their future holds for them. The fact that college campuses have not been open for tours due to COVID-19 has caused uncertain decision making. Many colleges also made the SAT and ACT optional for applying students. "I am trying to stay positive about the college process, but it's a lot of unknowns, and that's scary,” Guberman said. “This has never happened before.”
The school guidance counselors have tried to help students with this struggle. "Ms. Harris is my college advisor, and she has been really communicative with me even though it's been hard," said Cho.
Seniors have been looking forward to activities that are considered rites of passage for 12th graders, like prom and graduation. Because of the pandemic, these events will look very different, even from those of last year's graduating class. "I believe that the senior class last year didn't have a prom or a senior trip,” Cho said. “And while we may not have traditional versions of those, I strongly believe that our senior government will do everything in their power to provide us with some really fun activities."
Guberman shares similar faith in her grade and HSAS. "Even though everything is kind of up in the air, I have no doubt that the senior government, and the school, will make something happen," she said.
Overall, the senior experience at HSAS is all about community. "It hasn't really set in that this is our last year of high school,” Cho said. “But I wouldn't want to spend it with any other people."