Last year everyone said we were the lucky ones because we would have a full, COVID-19 free senior year. Think sports tournaments, dances, and yes, even diploma exams.
They said we “dodged the bullet,” because while the grads of 2020 would miss out on fully celebrating their senior year, surely we wouldn’t have to make the same sacrifices. But here we are, one year later. Our senior year wasn’t COVID-free, and we spent much more of it than we would have liked online.
But you know what? I still think we are the lucky ones.
Lucky to have a supportive community to lean on; lucky to have such kind and dedicated teachers to help us learn even in unconventional circumstances; and lucky that our friends had our backs, even if it was from across a Zoom screen.
And honestly, I think that’s what this year has been all about: noticing and appreciating the little things. There was a last time I embarked on the chaotic challenge of launching myself into a cafeteria seat before they were all taken, but at the time I didn't realize it would be the last. And if I had known? I would have savoured the feeling of being surrounded by energy and friends and chaos. I wish I had noticed and appreciated those little seemingly insignificant moments, those everyday things I never expected I would miss so much.
And therein lies the lesson of 2021.
We can start now. We can start appreciating what we have, instead of being bitter about what we missed. Sure, we didn’t have all of the school events we usually do, and we were quarantined a couple times. But we were able to end the year with a grad parade, found new ways to spend time with friends safely, and we didn’t have to write diploma exams – and that is definitely something to celebrate.
This year has taught us how to adapt quickly to new situations. There were many times of disruption, forcing us to spend a couple months alone in our bedrooms, logging into Zoom everyday. But regardless of the back and forth, our class was able to come together in different ways and bond more as a collective. We made the most of what we could and found new ways to spend time together. This included late nights playing internet games as a group – connecting with old friends and new friends alike.
While it may not be the same as playing a hand of Uno at lunch all crammed on the same table, it got us by. Being forced to only interact with our cohort meant we got to spend a lot of time together, allowing us to become closer as a group of friends. Without the pandemic, I don’t know if I would have had the privilege of getting to know my peers as well as I did.
So while we may not have gotten to spend the entirety of our senior year physically together, like at sporting events cheering on our classmates one last time, or at volunteering gigs like the community supper, or singing our hearts out to Oceans at mass, at least we were all in it together. We had each other to help us through the most unpredictable year, and will continue to have one another as we take on the world.
Senior year turned out to be not what any of us were expecting, and that’s okay. We learned the importance of staying flexible and rolling with the punches, while still appreciating what we have and letting go of the things we cannot change. It can be hard to look back and think about all the things we missed out on, but our class made the best of this year and took on all the challenges thrown at us with grace.
This year taught us to not take those small things for granted and appreciate what we have in the moment.
Mackenzie Bateman and Brooke Rapaich are graduating students at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Academy.