Class of 2021: One senior’s pandemic perspective

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Emily Ramsey, Reporter

I remember the day that my senior class ring showed up, and I knew that it would mark the beginning of what would be the greatest culmination of all the years of hard work that my classmates and I have ever experienced. It was our time. The class of 2021 would be the best senior class ever.

Our junior year started like every other year except to the degree that we were all scrambling to make decisions that we probably should have made well in advance. It just got real. SAT prep needed to be done, PSAT needed to be taken, decide on a college, decide on a major, find out that you are short a PE credit, what am I wearing today and what’s for lunch? But, with all we juniors had in front of us, we reflected on what was behind us. We looked up and suddenly it was spring break…. and that’s where it all went sideways.

Spring Break 2020 was the spring break that never ended. At first, we all welcomed the added time off from school and the responsibilities that went along with returning from vacation. This was a time of uncertainty for our country, our state, our city, our schools and our families. As for me and my friends, all we were certain of, at this time, was sleeping in and making sure we had enough Wifi. We thought “this too shall pass and all this craziness will be over shortly, but why are we hoarding toilet paper, water and disinfectant?”

New words were added to our daily vernacular: pandemic, social distance, COVID-19, The Rona, The Vid, N95, triple ply, and remote learning. There it was, the end of vacation…. remote learning. This was a new concept that no school district was prepared for. There was a mad scramble for schools to come up with and implement a plan to get everyone on track as quickly and effectively as possible, all before the end of school 2019-2020 school year. Melissa ISD did a phenomenal job with what they had to work with, but the graduating class of 2020 were casualties of the state mandating, social distancing, and mask mandating laws, and it was a huge wakeup call for our class of 2021, because with the onset of summer, there was no hope in sight for the class of 2021 ever returning to any symbol of normalcy.

August 2020 began our senior year with few answers. School started under the fears of the pandemic with a mandatory week of remote learning for all students and then a phase in of in-person students. Two weeks later the doors fully opened to those wanting to return to the classroom. Under state mandates, however, parents had the option to continue virtual learning for their children if they desired. There were tons of debate on the pros/cons of reopening schools from parents that had to return to work or lose jobs, to healthcare saying it was still too soon, but alas, each family had to decide what was best for them.

Our final year began under a cloud of uncertainty but is ending with a bright outlook. We have persevered through a tumultuous time that has never been seen in modern times. We have remained friends with those that we no longer get to sit beside at the lunch table and talk about last night’s TV or today’s Tik-Toks. We were able to see our football team have a winning season. We can meet at church now and have a sit-down lunch afterwards. We are going to prom, and arguably the most important, we will get to graduate with our families by our side…. and for all the things we will do, we will not take this for granted.

We are strong, we are the Melissa High School Class of 2021, and perhaps, these are our best of times.