Graduation is the final page to close after twelve, well-spent years of learning and growing. Many students imagine how that special day should go: hands are shaken, caps are thrown, and hugs are given; it seems every high schooler dreams about the day they are handed their diplomas.
We all have expectations for this special day, but in the midst of COVID-19, there is no promise of a traditional high school graduation for the Naperville North Class of 2021, though many of us yearn for normalcy.
We’ve all waited for our turn to be seniors. We’ve all waited to run the halls on the first day of school and enjoy off-campus lunch. We’re all ready to savor the traditional senior year. And now with a global pandemic, that experience feels cheated. After living through this crisis for several months, it sometimes feels that we’ve been patient long enough, we now deserve some normalcy and freedom.
But in reality, our choices right now intensely affect other peoples’ lives, not just our own. According to the CDC, While severe cases of COVID-19 or death are less likely among young people, we still can spread the virus to others, including the at-risk community. As seniors, we are becoming adults. And as scary as it is, it’s time to start growing up. Managing the spread of COVID-19 is as much of a responsibility for us as it is for everyone else.
As a class, we have the choice not to uphold traditions outside school that interfere with health and safety. Traditional homecoming season will soon be in our midst, but this year we must reevaluate our plans. With no homecoming football game, assemblies, or dance, it is easy to long for the traditions of large group gatherings the season brings. Let us as a class make the most out of the cherished season, while still watching out for our community. Outdoor spaces, small groups, and social distancing may need to set the tone for the night, but there is still opportunity for new (safe) traditions to be made. North’s student government has started planning an in-person, outdoor Mr. NNHS, several sports will continue having seasons, and theatre will still be putting on performances at NNHS. We as a class have the unique chance to truly get involved, to spend our last year at school making new memories and traditions for future classes.
As a senior class of equals, no one’s individual entitlement should grant them access to the freedoms we all miss. Likewise, we share a common responsibility: we must keep in mind what we say to each other. In the midst of the normal senior stressors it is easy to put ourselves above others, both in the way we act and the way we speak. It is a learning experience that we all share, that all of us can improve upon. We can all learn to be more respectful, more responsible and more empathetic. We must hold each other accountable, but do so responsibly. Respect is the key to engaging each other in meaningful conversations and creating improvement.
We have a world ahead of us and the rest of the year in our grasp. We all want the same thing: to have a cherished, memorable year. So let’s take the opportunities we have and not recreate others that may endanger us. Let’s put our best foot forward now in hopes we’ll get to end this year in a better place than we started it, growing as individuals and members of our community.