Graduates reflect on their senior year

Leah Carrier

Listening to the stories of two Wilson seniors made for a bittersweet experience. On their faces I saw wistful expressions, but also a refreshing sentiment: optimism.

Spending the last year of high school during a pandemic has certainly not come without challenges.

“I definitely thought my senior year was going to be a whole lot different,” Sydney Madera said. “We were all just looking forward to being kind of the top dogs of the school.”

For Olivia Sessums, senioritis was exacerbated by virtual learning this year. “I just had a hard time motivating myself to go to class and do the work because you’re not actually in person,” she said. “It felt like there weren’t as many consequences.”

For both seniors, the first word that came to mind when prompted to describe this past year was “stressful.”

Among many things that the Class of ‘21 missed out on this year: off-campus lunch, college tours, and prom.

“We didn’t really have powderpuff, we didn’t have prom and homecoming,” Sessums said. “It was definitely kind of hard, not being able to live like a senior.”

“Being in a classroom and experiencing stuff… I just tell people not to take that for granted because that was a lot of fun.”

However, for Sessums, online school has come with an unexpected perk. “I feel like being away from school has kind of made me realize independence a lot more. And so as a person, I think I’ve matured.”

Madera noted that over these past four years, “I feel like I’ve gained more confidence, like I’ve chilled out more.”

Madera reminisced about the spontaneity of her high school experience pre-pandemic. “I used to sit in the atrium for lunch and weird stuff would be going on every single day,” she said. “I remember once, the teachers had a fashion show… It was so funny.”

Madera has been rowing for Wilson Crew since 8th grade—a total of 5 years. A lot of her favorite high school moments are memories with the team.

Notably, a vending machine malfunctioned at a regatta. She ended up getting two bags of Ruffles chips instead of one. “That was a highlight,” she said, laughing.

Sessums will be majoring in art at the University of Michigan next year, while Madera will be studying veterinary medicine at the University of Vermont.

When Madera visited the school, it was love at first sight. “When I went to Vermont, I was pretty much like, oh yeah, I want to go here.”

Sessums can’t wait for college. “I’m excited to go to a dorm, meet people, and live my life,” she said.

While this atypical school year has entailed unfulfilled expectations and loss of motivation, it leaves seniors with a newfound appreciation for simple things and enthusiasm for the future.  •