By Dana Friend
When people say that senior year goes by quickly, you might doubt them until you blink and suddenly realize that graduation is only hours away. All of these questions then swarm around you: “Wasn’t it the best year of high school?,” “Didn’t you have so much fun?,”“What college are you going to?,” and you come to the conclusion that this is it. This is real, and it’s about to happen: I’m hitting yet another milestone in life and I’m plunging with full force into a new phase of adulthood. While this may seem like a coming-of-age story, it’s really the journey of getting to where I am now that’s a story worth sharing.
March 6th was the Friday before the spring break of the 2019-2020 school year. As seniors, my friends and I were so excited because this meant that second semester was quickly approaching and that’s when all the fun senior events – or “shenanigans,” as we liked to call it – would commence. This included prom, senior skip day, senior prank, and even a fun Six Flags adventure that would be held in the middle of the night! When it was announced that school would be cancelled for the next two weeks, we tried to keep our heads up and think of it as an extended spring break. For the natural introverts like me, this meant having the chance to read more books! However, when we were told that school would be cancelled for the rest of the year, and that my work, too, would be closing for safety purposes, it was disappointing.
The onset of COVID-19 caused a spiraling downturn in the lives of so many people. At first, I was frustrated and upset because I thought it unfair that something I didn’t ask for “ruined” my senior year. I didn’t understand how something could change so suddenly, and before I knew it, my last moments in the classrooms filled with friends I’ve been going to school with for the last four years were taken away. Then I realized that my issues weren’t as troubling as others, and my perspective changed.
There’s a club at school called Best Buddies, and it pairs general education students with students who have IDDs (Intellectual Developmental Disabilities.) Knowing that I couldn’t see them in the hallways everyday was heartbreaking because their smiles and attitudes were some of the things that got me through my hardest days. Not being able to give them hugs or even a high-five got me stuck in my funk even more. I was sad and quiet for the first parts of quarantine, and I stayed in my room for the majority of the time. That probably wasn’t a good idea, but at the time, I couldn’t find my happy place since all we could do was FaceTime, Skype, etc.
I was also stressed because I had to study for all my AP Exams, and although Zoom call tutorials were given as an option to ask our teachers review questions, I found out that I’m definitely a hands-on learner, and this was well outside of my comfort zone. All in all, my attitude tanked, senioritis was taking over just in time for my national exams, and I was bummed about the opportunities I had missed out on, but even more upset that people across that nation were going through worse situations that I was. I needed to turn myself around, and thankfully, with the help of friends and family, I did just that.
A Facebook page was started that allowed senior parents and friends of senior parents to “adopt” a senior, meaning that small gifts and notes would be dropped off at doorsteps as a way to motivate and cheer-up students. I was fortunate to have been adopted by a long-time friend, and it has been wonderful to receive little snacks and signs that have more than lifted my spirits. My best friend and I even had a make-shift prom where we had a pajama night filled with lots of laughter, food, movies, and board games. That, too, helped me find the silver lining.
While my senior year wasn’t what most people would define as traditional or normal, it was nonetheless unforgettable and amazing. I look forward to my graduation in the next couple days, though it will be very different as social distancing rules will apply, but I can’t wait to move the tassel from right to left, and take the next big step forward into a new wave of life and adulthood.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me to realize that, while life is short and unpredictable, we can always find ways to look on the bright side, and if you take just a second to do something kind for someone else, it’ll go a long way.
Hi, my name is Dana Friend. I’m a recent graduate of Frisco High School, and I will be attending the aviation program at Oklahoma State University this fall to study Aerospace Administration & Operations.
While some people might say otherwise, I’m glad to be a member of the class of 2020 — or what we originally deemed ourselves as, “a class with vision.” Get it? Uncertainty and constant change faced us, but our class stayed strong. Personally, a motto I like to live by is “adapt and overcome.” This situation definitely required both, and as a result, I’ve come out a stronger person.
I’m so thankful for friends and family that are always there for me to rely on, and I hope that everyone is able to take a moment to reflect on the good in life and take the time to appreciate the things that truly matter to us.