The class of 2021 at Newton North High School is working to make the most of this year by keeping students connected and traditions alive despite the pandemic.
Aaron Sanders Jr, longtime dean at Newton North High School who has followed the Class of 2021 as they moved from grade to grade, said he has been working with class officers to ensure they continue with events such as prom so students might have a sense of normalcy.
“We meet to talk about different activities to keep the class united, if you will,” Sanders said. “This helps me just keep a pulse on what’s going on with students.”
Class President Kevin Wu said he has worked with his team to put on safe events that could keep the senior class connected. He said they successfully hosted a movie night on the field as well as a kickball tournament.
Wu said student council-run events used to be focused on fundraising, but that’s changed since COVID-19, and the movie night was free.
“There’s really been a shift to run events that bring people together rather than just focused on what’s financially best in terms of fundraising,” Wu said.
Newton North is planning on an in-person prom for the class of 2021 outside on a field with COVID-19 protocols. Some students said they have adapted to the idea that it won’t be how they expected and are grateful for the experience.
“I think to some extent we all didn’t think we were going to have a prom then when we found out we would it was a pleasant surprise,” said Sara Sales, a senior at Newton North. “I think everyone’s pretty happy just to have the opportunity to be able to participate in an event like that, and bring everyone together.”
Ellie Solomon, a senior at Newton North, said she is excited to dress up, take pictures, and connect with friends — especially because they didn’t have a prom last year.
“We don’t really know anything else,” Solomon said.
Sanders said the class of 2021 has done well adapting to the current climate.
“This is not how we planned it back in freshman year when we talked about going through our four years of high school experiences, but the students have persevered and have met the challenges,” Sanders said. “We’re doing the best we can and we look forward to celebrating what we can celebrate at the end of the year and enjoying every minute of it.”
Graduation and prom symbolize a chapter coming to an end for seniors, Sales said, and she thinks many are ready.
“I feel like everyone’s just ready to graduate to some extent,” Sales said. “We’ve gone through a crazy year, and I think we’re all sort of ready to just move on and go to college at this point.”
Sanders and Wu said students in the class of 2021 are stronger for what they have gone through.
“One of my teachers told me that even though we are in an unprecedented time that is very difficult, our senior class and class of 2021 all across the country will come away from this experience a lot stronger and with a lot more independence,” Wu said.
Jessica Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.