It remains a popular view to think senior year of high school is the year of changes, lasts and bittersweetness. Every young middle schooler daydreams of one day experiencing high school staples like screaming in the football game’s student section and bruising your feet in a homecoming mosh pit. I once lived with that mindset, so I speak from experience.
But I am here to tell you that the high school events you once deemed landmarks in your life do not define your senior year or any school year, for that matter. Although Friday night football games and weekend dances are entertaining, there is more to senior year than school traditions. For example, my senior year has been unimaginably different than when I rehearsed it in my head back in middle school.
For example, my senior year has been unimaginably different than when I rehearsed it in my head back in middle school.
In late May, as I was walking along the Santa Rosa, Fla. shoreline, I received a proposition from my Aunt Holly. She offered me the opportunity to live with her in Honolulu, Hawaii, to nanny my cousins, Alex (12) and Savannah (9), while she worked for the Navy at the Pearl Harbor Base. The idea felt like the kind of movie-like dream you wished for growing up but never actually believed it would come true. It was very surreal.
The rest of my summer was spent planning my trip and redoing my original Fall semester plan. The school’s administration knew the 2020- 21 school year would look different, so they were prepared for students requiring adjusted schedules, which made my class changes effortless. They allowed me to switch both Bible and World views to the same semester and take Journalism virtually. I dual enrolled the rest of my classes at KSU online. In order to care for my cousins and embark on this unusual adventure, I sacrificed my Spring semester to the remainder of my classes.
Ironically, COVID-19 acted as the catalyst for this major life change. Because of the pandemic, there was a shortage of personnel, thus requiring the Navy to activate 1,600 reservists, including my aunt. I departed from Atlanta on July 30 and lived on the military base until the beginning of November. Those months of nannying in Hawaii were spent eating rice on the lanai (Hawaiian for back porch), buying fresh coconuts at the fruit stand and driving to my favorite beach, Kailua. But for all of that to happen, I had to temporarily trade everything that was familiar and take the nontraditional senior route.
Senior year can look however you want it to look. Take advantage of our hybrid high school freedoms. It is rare for students to have the ability to spend Thursday mornings before labs and clubs however they please. We also have two weekdays when homework can be completed anywhere other than a classroom. Because of these freedoms, students may optimize opportunities and work with a flexible schedule.
Every day we are provided the possibility for change. It is just a matter of ditching redundant habits like morning makeup routines and social media browsing that makes all the difference. Do not limit your senior year to school events and their preparations. Senior year extends far beyond the school grounds.
I say this all now in the middle of the first semester instead of the end because it is never too late to change habits and redo repetitive schedules.
Go for a hike before the first bell rings, cook breakfast instead of eating cereal, do homework outside instead of at a plain desk. There are endless ways of making senior year, or any year of high school, more meaningful and personal.