Year in Review

Year+in+Review

My senior year started off in a way I could have never imagined. I remember sitting in my friend’s living room at the end of summer when we received the email bearing the news all of us dreaded: our senior year was going to start completely online over zoom. Receiving this news was heartbreaking. After going through all of summer with minimal social interaction, I was praying a normal school year would happen and I could get back to seeing all of my friends. I lived out the rest of the summer with a little bit of disappointment, but I tried to keep my spirits as high as possible and focus on the positives of the strangest beginning to a school year that I could have ever imagined. When the first day of school finally came around on September 8, I instantly knew this was going to be rough as long as we were online. In every class, half of the students would have their cameras completely off and never speak. For the other half of students who did keep their cameras on, it would still take the teachers strenuous amounts of effort just to get a couple words out of their students. However, that wasn’t even the worst part of the day. 

At about noon, I got the first alert about a fire in Ashland. I was sitting on zoom in my AP Econ class when I got the text from the city. It was just a little warning about a small fire in northern Ashland, so I didn’t think much of it. Within minutes, everything had changed. Multiple kids frantically left the call, talking about how they had to evacuate due to the fire. My dad called me a couple minutes later, asking me what he should grab for me from his house as he packed up the car to evacuate. I was trying to stay as calm as possible, but it felt like my whole world had been flipped upside down in a matter of seconds. While I was fortunate enough to not have to evacuate my house, it was still one of the most disheartening days I had ever experienced. The worst was later into the day, when one of my closest friends who lives in Talent had to evacuate. Everyone I knew in Ashland was okay, but by this time, the fire was bigger and moving fast through Talent, so I didn’t have the same reassurance for my friend. We stayed in contact throughout the evening trying to figure out what would happen to his house, but the fire was so out of control we wouldn’t know anything for a couple of days. I remember sitting in another friend’s living room that night in utter silence, watching the news live, everyone just trying to wrap our heads around what we were experiencing. Over the next few days, I learned that my friend’s house was okay. However, that good news was not nearly enough to combat the dark and gloomy feeling that was washing all over the town. I spent the next couple of weeks collecting myself and preparing again to start school. 

The first semester and a half of school felt like one long continuous day. I fell into the pattern of rolling out of bed, going to my couple of classes, then lounging around for the rest of the day. At times, it felt almost impossible to keep track of the different days. I never knew that just simply sitting on a computer for a couple of hours every day could be so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. My motivation to do any schoolwork was at an all-time low. This dragged on for months and months, until finally we received what felt like the first piece of good news we had received in a long time. I remember the pure excitement I got when I heard the High School was planning to go to hybrid learning after Spring Break. While it wasn’t full in person school, after a year of online learning, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to go back to school at all. The first day back on campus for hybrid learning felt like the first day of school, as we were back on campus with other students around us. It was such an amazing feeling to be able to be around people again, seeing everyone’s faces (though masked) and meeting all of my new teachers in person. Hybrid learning took a little getting used to, but it was by far better than full online learning. It was a relief to be able to be around people again outside of the couple of friends I could hang out with during quarantine. The motivation instantly went up, and senior year started to turn around. However, the good news didn’t stop there. After about a month of hybrid learning, we received even better news: the school was going to allow students to return to a full in-person school schedule. While hybrid learning was an improvement, it wasn’t the same as having the whole school back on campus at the same time. The motivation and energy levels instantly went up, and I was happier being back at school and around people. The last couple months of senior year has easily been the best part of High School. While the start of the school year was unlike anything I could have ever imagined, I am very grateful that I am able to end my high school journey on campus with all of my friends with me, and I will certainly never forget the memories this year has brought me. 

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