By Samantha Perez
The 2020-2021 academic year is quickly coming to a close. Everyone is posting pictures on Instagram in their cap and gowns, filming the end of their last Zoom class on TikTok and tweeting that they can’t wait for summer. But for the past eight months, our school year has not at all gone as planned.
In major cities all over the country, failure rates among students in the Class of 2021 are as high as 70%. Many high school seniors didn’t get a decent educational experience from online learning, let alone a homecoming, a prom or an in-person graduation ceremony. Though many schools around the nation did open, in-person students still had to make drastic changes: masks have to be worn at all times, seating arrangements in class and the cafeteria are strict, teachers and staff don’t have everything figured out and there is a constant worry of whether you will get infected with COVID-19.
As a person who has always thrived in school and found learning joyous, my grades slipped this year, and my head was not at all in the game. My teachers, despite their best efforts, had email miscommunications, glitches and technical difficulties in the educational systems would put us behind and most of the time I had to teach myself the material of seven different classes—not to mention extra curriculars, which are terrible to keep track of and prioritize in an online setting.
When it came to juggling school and college applications, things got even harder and more daunting, especially when taking SATs and ACTs. Regarding to mental health, student depression and anxiety rates for students up to age 17 have increased by 9%, noting that remote and in-person learning are major stressors. As a senior, I can admit that it is super disappointing that I have to end my last year of high school behind a computer screen in my room instead of in a classroom full of my peers. The epic highs and lows of saying goodbye to our friends––and frankly our childhoods––before heading off to college are very much missed this year.
For me, senior year of high school has been very boring and unmotivational due to the adjustments and changes that have been made because of COVID-19. There are so many things that this pandemic has negatively affected, and unfortunately the quality of our education is one of them.
When I tried on my cap and gown last week and pictured my graduation ceremony that I am lucky enough to have, I couldn’t help but think of how much life experience I accumulated and how much I learned about myself this year. After over a year of this pandemic, we stayed strong and completed our final year of high school. All the tears, the late assignments, the frantic emails to our teachers, the chances we missed to spend with our friends and the things we turned in right before 11:59 P.M. were worth it; we are high school graduates. Whether you get to walk the stage, you must celebrate the year you’ve had and whatever comes after it. One thing we can all agree on is that this year has tested us and we came out of it alive. So, smile hard at that diploma seniors; you’ve earned it!