“Some sort of normalcy”: How to celebrate the Class of 2021?

The speaker at U-32’s 2019 graduation was Jim Willis, the legendary Math White Table teacher. He began his speech by expressing his gratitude for being selected by the class. He soon became choked up, mumbling “shit” into the microphone. He realized what he said and recovered by blaming Jordan Hawkins for teaching him the word. 

Graduation Speech Class of 2019

That word does well, to sum up, the experience of the class of 2021’s senior year. However, Jim’s positive reaction, the ability to laugh at oneself and make the most of a situation, also does well to describe the class of 2021. 


After a very long 5 years of waiting, this year’s senior class has finally reached the ultimate destination only to find it mutilated by Covid-19. No beginning of the year assembly, no senior lounge, no homecoming, no scaring the 9th graders: the senior class is left with the scraps of a senior year and forced to build something worthwhile themselves. 


So, how does the class of 2021 want to celebrate their final semester of high school? A survey was sent out to the students, providing us with answers and ideas. 


Graduation: An overwhelming number of students said that graduation was the tradition that they looked forward to most:


I wanted to be able to wear a cap and gown and step up on stage and have it be spectacular.” 


After witnessing the “profoundly lame” graduation of the class of 2020 (sorry guys), this year’s seniors have high hopes for a better graduation. 

Covid Graduation Class of 2020

“After all that the coronavirus has taken from us during our senior year, we should at least be able to get a somewhat normal graduation,” one student wrote. “Graduation is a celebration of our accomplishments these past 6 years so I think I speak for most of my classmates when I say it should have some sort of normalcy.”


In past years, graduations were held on the football field or in the gym with hundreds of people in attendance, speeches, and handshakes with several teachers as you walk. With Covid, many of these traditions are impossible, but there are high hopes for a modified version that is still caused for celebration.


I think we should find a nice day so graduation can be held on the football field.” A senior recommended. “Students will be able to spread out and sit at a distance.” Seniors have discussed giving each graduating student a certain number of tickets so there aren’t too many people, socially distancing outside during the ceremony, and wearing masks in order to follow covid guidelines. 

Covid Graduation Class of 2020

Prom: Another classic tradition for upperclassmen. Normally, prom entails hundreds of pictures being taken at the State House, followed by dinner with friends, and then proceeding to the dance in the ballroom at the Capitol Plaza Hotel. Covid denied the senior class a prom during their junior year, and it may happen again this year. 


While some 2021 seniors were in favor of the idea of having a masked prom outside, others were completely against it. “I don’t think there’s a good way of doing it that satisfies the Covid protocols that the school will need to implement while still maintaining a true prom experience.”


Those in favor of having prom suggested getting a portable dance floor to put outside, requiring masks, and only selling tickets to the senior class so juniors could only attend if they were invited. Dates for prom, and graduation too, would be dependent on weather so students recommended carving out several days as options and picking the best one when the time comes. 


Senior Trip: The least possible tradition during Covid. In recent years, the senior class would take a trip to New York to go white water rafting and spend the day at an amusement park. The class of 2020 had their trip canceled, and because traveling out of state this June would be unrealistic, the senior class has other ideas. 


They suggested replacing it with another activity that could be done at school. Ideas such as a class hike and camp, a modified spring day, an in-school sleepover, or an outdoor picnic were mentioned. The most common response: “Honestly, it would be nice just to see our classmates and have some time to say hi/bye altogether.” 

Class of 2021 in DC

Senior Prank: Unfortunately, given the utmost secrecy about the topic and the likelihood that various members of the faculty/staff may be reading this, I’m not at liberty to divulge any of the ideas for a senior prank. If you are a senior and would like to have your voice heard, email me, Claire Obeldobel, and you will be admitted to the group chat. 


Other traditions were brought up that the class of 2021 thought was important. The most common being Decision Day. Because it can easily be held outside, seniors were hoping to flex their future plans and hear about their classmate’s plans too. Additional ideas included bringing back Jim, less homework and more fun, and if possible, “cut us loose early.” 


Overall, the senior class is brilliant. In the words of George Cook, “I love the senior class, I do. They’ve done such a great job in a really challenging situation.” Such brilliance deserves a safe, spectacular senior year. 


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