Athens Drive ’21 graduates navigate hectic senior year

ADHS+homecoming+seniors+pose+for+a+group+photo+at+the+North+Carolina+Museum+of+Art

Photos by Sarah Thomas

ADHS homecoming seniors pose for a group photo at the North Carolina Museum of Art

The 2020-2021 school year has been an experience unlike any other. Athens Drive students have had learning, athletics and social events disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Seniors have been especially unlucky when it comes to events being changed and disrupted.

Many seniors at ADHS are upset that they will not be able to partake in senior traditions such as prom, a normal graduation and the ability to have a regular senior year in school with their friends. The stresses of senior year and applying to colleges are enough as it is and the removal of activities seniors look forward to doesn’t help minimize these feelings of pressure.

“I have been looking forward to prom my whole high school career. I’ve been told it’s one of the most fun nights of high school and for us to not be able to have one both junior and senior year is really disappointing,” said Olivia Raper, senior.

Along with missing out on crucial senior activities, 12th grade students are struggling to focus in online classes knowing that graduation is only months away. It is hard enough for those graduating soon to focus on classes in person as it is, so to add online classes on top of that makes it nearly impossible. Senioritis, to many, is even more severe in 2021 seniors compared to previous years.

“Online learning has been tough to keep up with because there are so many distractions. When in person, we were able to have conversations with the teacher and bond with classmates but when learning online, it’s so much harder to create these relationships, in turn making it a lot more difficult to stay on task. Now that graduation is coming up quickly, school is so much harder to focus on compared to previous years,” said Sam Bost, senior.

Many changes have also been made to senior year festivities. Graduation, June 10, has been moved from the Raleigh Convention Center to Jaguar Stadium. Not only has the location been changed, but the class is split up into two different groups. The first group, graduating at 8 a.m., consists of those whose last name begins with A-J. Following this, the second group, graduation at 10 a.m., consists of those whose last name begins with K-Z. Each student is allowed four tickets for family and friends. The separation of the class has sparked some backlash, as students won’t be able to watch those in the other group graduate after working and bonding with them for the past four years.

“I find it really frustrating that I’m not going to be able to watch a lot of my friends I’ve known for the past four years of my life, some even longer, graduate. We’ve worked so hard together throughout the years and to not even be able to watch them receive their diploma is a real disappointment,” said Adam Shefet, senior.

The effects of COVID-19 on the 2021 graduates heavily outweighs those of any other class. The fun and excitement of senior year is, for the most part, taken away from this years’ 12th graders, something students look forward to from freshman year and on. The combination of a separated graduation, cancelled prom, the loss of pep rallies and a changed homecoming and Friday Night Lights are memories that the Class of ‘21 will never be able to have normal memories of.

Regardless of the unfortunate circumstances of 2020-2021, Athens Drive seniors and parents are still working hard to make it a memorable experience. In accordance with CDC guidelines, senior parents are doing all they can to make the year as “normal” as it can be by organizing an outdoor student breakfast and other activities that otherwise would have been taken away from seniors. Not only this but other students have taken it upon themselves to create outdoor activities that aren’t affiliated with ADHS to promote senior year fun such as “Senior Assassin,” a game in which seniors have to spray their targets with water guns before a deadline to survive and advance.

“Obviously there have been a lot of changes to the year this year but it’s not like we can do anything about it. My classmates and I all wish we could have had a regular senior year but I still think we’re able to make the most of it,” said Mitchell Huggins, senior.