Senior Year During a Pandemic

The senior class photo.

The senior class photo.

May marks the start of a month full of senior activities ranging from Chalk Day to Vespers. While none of these events may take place in person anymore, virtual equivalents for each event are in the works. On May 8th, the first—and hopefully last—virtual Chalk Day and Oh, the Places You’ll Go Luncheon took place honoring the Class of 2020. Faculty read Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go and created a Flipgrid video of Senior Shout-Outs to commemorate the graduating class. The seniors were also celebrated with a video filled with photos of each senior alongside their chalk drawing of the college they plan to attend. 

While none of the Class of 2020 ever imagined their Senior Year would turn virtual, dedicated faculty members have been working tirelessly to find new and creative ways to celebrate. In particular, the College Counseling team, along with Dean of Upper School Student Activities Brittany Coker and Upper School math teacher Daniel Calmeyer  are the people behind the scenes helping these students experience long-awaited senior events. 

“There are so many people here at Westridge that have been working incredibly hard to keep senior events alive for the Class of 2020,” notes Calmeyer. “Our first major effort, Chalk Day, and the Oh, The Places You’ll Go luncheon, seemed to go well, and I was really touched with all of the heartwarming comments the seniors posted in the chat. While these events will never replace being there without seniors to celebrate them in person, at the very least we want them to know how loved they are.” 

Chalk Day and Oh, The Places You’ll Go were the first of many virtual gatherings that will take place to honor the Class of 2020. While everyone understands that these virtual events are not equal to the in-person experiences, they are still a great way to recognize the hard work of each individual senior. 

“The purpose of these end-of-year events is to give the seniors an opportunity to be recognized for their incredible and varied journeys as well as the mark they have individually and collectively left on Westridge, and a chance for them to celebrate and say good-bye to their school community as they move on to their next exciting chapter,” explained Coker. “It is important to honor these rites of passage, and ensure each senior understands how known and loved they are by their Westridge family.”

Plans for events like The Senior Retreat, Senior Tea, Senior Awards Assembly, Prom, and Vespers have been released and will be taking place May 18-19th, May 23rd, and May 29th. However, graduation plans are still in the works and have yet to be released, but the original graduation date of June 5th will be honored.    

“The entire situation has obviously been a disappointment, but to still receive love and to see all the effort from faculty to end the year off on the best note is something I really appreciate,” commented Julia V. ‘20. 

The faculty are not alone in their efforts to celebrate the class of 2020. Seniors Sarah W. and Anelise P. created an Instagram account, @westridge2020, to do just that. They first created a google doc for all the seniors to fill out with their college they will be attending as well as their intended major. Then Sarah made individual announcements for each senior with the information provided in the document and a photo, and everyday, Anelise posts three of them. Sarah and Anelise wanted to put together this account in order to regain some of the closure of their time at Westridge they believed they were missing out on. 

Screenshots of the Westridge Class of 2020 Instagram page.

“This was definitely not how I imagined my senior year to look like. I was looking forward to having that satisfaction of ending my chapter here at Westridge, but because it was cut short it feels incomplete,” explained Sarah. “I wanted to make sure there was something that made my class feel special, so I coordinated with my classmate Anelise to make an Instagram account to honor the Westridge Class of 2020. In doing so, I feel like I have some closure to this year, and I feel so much better knowing I was able to give back to my classmates after being by my side for so many years.”

Even though the Class of 2020 is receiving love and support from the faculty and staff as well as their classmates, it has still been difficult to reflect on what they imagined their last month of high school would look like. 

“I mostly miss having the opportunity to experience new things with my friends. I think this year was going to be the one with the most freedom, and I was looking forward to Interim, Spring Break road trips, etc,” commented Jadyn L. ‘20. “I’m glad I have the privilege to be able to isolate, but I’m excited for when quarantine ends and I can see the people I love in person again.” 

Ending with online school has also allowed the class of 2020 to reflect on the values of a Westridge education and gain a deeper understanding of how much Westridge has given them. This may not have been the ending they imagined, but it has allowed them to become more grateful for the school they called home for the past eight to two years. 

“Students in this pandemic are affected in a very unique way. I feel like the world has come to a pretty mutual agreement that nothing can successfully recreate the in-person classroom experience,” explained Ava H. ‘20. “I have learned a lot about myself as a student and what works and doesn’t work. Being cooped up inside while trying to learn off of a computer has made me appreciate the privilege I’ve had of physically going to a school as fantastic as Westridge.”