Reagan seniors experience mixed emotions about 2021-2022 school year


Seniors wait to be photographed in the auditorium on picture day. After a year online, seniors were grateful to regain a sense of normalcy.

How is the class of 2022 reacting to the new school year? At Reagan, many are excited for upcoming events, yet nervous about other senior responsibilities. 

From being released from school in March 2020 to being online for almost a year and a half, students have learned to expect the unexpected. With sophomores potentially going into the building for the first time, juniors who jumped into their most stressful year without even remembering their virtual sophomore year, and seniors who’ve only had one full year of the “high school experience,” mixed emotions toward the 2021-2022 school year are being felt. But now,  the focus is on the seniors. How are they feeling this year? Are seniors ready, and willing, to accept their responsibility to set an example for the underclassmen?

In March 2020, students were released from school due to COVID-19 precautions. Students were allowed back in the building in cohorts by January 2021. The school allowed all students to return to the building in August 2021. Since then, views have varied on the return to in-person learning vs virtual learning as the pandemic continues. 

The question remains- do students think they’ll return to online learning this year? “Oh, for sure. There’s no way we aren’t,” said senior Halie Pham. “Teachers have already been preparing for it. I think it’s already dangerous, us not being online.” 

Since going virtual, class attendance rates dropped in many parts of the country. In both high school and higher education, students were focusing on the world outside of school during 2020. 

In an interview with APNews, Emily Feltes,  Principal of Chicago’s North Grand High School, said that students were taking on jobs to support their families instead of attending virtual school. Other students became sick due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said Feltes. In an article for CNN, John King, former Secretary of Education, warned that, “Good intentions will not be enough to bring students left behind by the pandemic back to school.”

However, seniors at Reagan seem to have a different view on going back to school in-person. Many revealed that they were excited to begin their last year of high school in a normal way. School traditions are still expected to happen, yet without specific dates to look forward to, seniors are looking on the bright side. 

“I already missed some of the senior traditions but I’m looking forward to making lots of memories, making new friends and closing out the year well,” said senior Morgan Funchess. 

Seniors have specific events that are meant to lock in the feeling of finishing high school. A few Reagan senior traditions are Senior Sunrise, the Senior Picnic, a Dash Game for seniors with a certain GPA and the elementary school grad walk. During the Senior Sunrise, students gather at the school to watch the sunrise, this takes place early in the school year. The senior picnic has good attendance, and that is held near graduation practice so that seniors are invested and want to finish the year well. Seniors who meet a certain GPA also travel to see a Dash Game as a reward for their academic standing. Yet, as people have learned over the past year, lack of communication can change attitudes quickly.

Many seniors, including Judith Guardado and Alanah Campbell, are receiving information about senior events too late. “I mean, I know there is the Senior Sunrise thing, but I think it has already passed,” Campbell said. “I never got any information about it though, so I didn’t go.”

Seniors are feeling uncertain about their role in the school dynamic. The class of ’22 were freshmen in their first and only fully normal school year. With their sophomore year ending early  and their junior year being online, many don’t feel like seniors. 

“I feel like I didn’t have the time to be a kid or even understand what being a senior would mean,” Guardado said. 

Another challenge many seniors have is graduation. They fear graduation will become virtual like Reagan’s Class of 2020. Many schools around the country held virtual graduation even in 2021. 

However, in general, seniors at Reagan are looking forward to graduation. They are reminded that they have persevered through high school, no matter how bumpy the road was. Many breathe a sigh of relief when coming back to the building and feeling a sense of normalcy. 

“I was told senior year was supposed to be your relaxing year, but I’m here stressing already,” Pham said. “I guess the only privilege thing about being a senior is marching band senior privileges.”

Seniors in the Band of Raiders, Reagan’s marching band, have special perks. During band camp, the two-week training period before the marching band season begins, dinner is provided to students. Seniors are the first to get food, then juniors, sophomores and freshmen. With over 80 students in the marching band, having first choice at dinner is something most students look forward to during their last year. 

The path after high school is uncertain for many. At Reagan in 2019, 71 percent of graduating students were enrolled in college or higher education. Seniors are currently applying to colleges, so the number of accepted students is unknown.

“I’m excited about college. I’m ready to turn everything in and find out if I got into the schools I wanted to,” Funchess said. Other seniors have said they aren’t ready to apply to colleges. 

Without having the conventional high school experience, seniors are ready to finish out the year well. They’ve got plans for the future, experience overcoming obstacles and enough perseverance to make 2022 the best senior year yet.