Photo by Kaita Gorsuch

Mill Stream Staff

Graduation – the day that most high schoolers probably look forward to the most – is slowly, but surely. almost upon us. For students in the class of 2022, the idea of graduation has been looming over them for a very long, very dramatic four years. With ninth grade being the only normal year they experienced – and that year is arguably, under normal circumstances, the worst of all four – seniors don’t really know what to make of how their high school experience has gone. 

After their freshman year, 10th grade seemed like it was looking up, until things took a turn for the worse. COVID rocked everyone’s world, creating an unprecedented time where no one knew what might happen. Our days, which originally consisted of going to classes, seeing our friends, and going to school events, soon crumbled into the nothingness of Zoom courses, quarantines, and an odd disconnect between everyone.

Junior year was complicated. Terms like “synchronous and asynchronous learning,” “Alpha/Charlie, Bravo/Delta, and Foxtrot” filled students’ vocabulary. They learned to fake being sick, or having internet issues, to get out of Zoom classes, or when they did have to attend they would turn off their cameras and microphones in order to get counted as present, even if they weren’t mentally present. Apathetic. That’s how junior year was for class of ‘22. Their most important year of high school was spent floating in and out of the classroom. Piles of AP classroom work weighed them down, but they constantly heard, “it’s not that bad. You guys are lucky.” A whole year was spent like this. It was 365 days of pure torture. They did their best. 

And now, senior year has arrived. Everyone probably came to NHS with an inkling of what their senior year would look like, just to have that taken away. They waited three years to walk into school and be the big men on campus, to be the top dogs. And yet, all of their big high school memories will have been viewed from behind a mask. Not only did class of ‘22 miss out on most of their high school experience, everyone from every grade level is currently so intermixed that it’s hard to tell the difference between freshmen and seniors. Even special perks that used to be deemed “upperclassmen only,” like the junior/senior cafeteria or prom, seem to be available to everyone. 

That’s not to say that the current seniors are the only ones affected by COVID. The graduates of 2020 and 2021 had it just as bad, if not worse, than this year’s group, and they had to go through the first years of college online. All of the underclassmen at NHS have had their high school years tainted by COVID as well. When the underclassmen look back on their time in high school, they have to remember what the pandemic deprived them of. Overall, anyone who had to live through this pandemic and continue on like everything was normal deserves to be congratulated and to have a normal high school experience. The truth is, however, that high school will probably never be the same, even after things return to “normal.” High school has never been -and probably will never be- like the movies, where a basketball star and a mathlete can bring the whole school together through the power of singing.

And that’s okay. 

This isn’t “High School Musical.” The illusion of movie endings is unachievable, COVID year or not. All we can hope for is better years to come.