The Class of ‘21 Reflects on the Year
The Class of 2021 has had quite a historic senior year. It definitely is not one that was expected or particularly fantastic, but it had its moments of normalcy.
“Overall senior year was definitely one to remember. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was certainly unique,” said Megan Queen.
“Senior year is what I had dreamed of for as long as I could remember … Senior Nights, Senior Skip Day, senior prank, cap and gown pictures, and many more things. Obviously my dream did not become my reality. But, because of that, my senior year taught me many more things that I would have not learned if it was a “normal year,” said Mollie Lomax.
This year has taught the seniors so many lessons about patience, discipline, and the importance of friendship.
“It taught me to cherish friendships and every moment spent with my friends. It taught me to be thankful for my school and the importance of an education. It taught me to appreciate the small things and give thanks to those who go out of their way. It taught me to focus on what’s important,” said Lomax.
Though there were many lessons learned, the school year still had its rollercoaster of emotions.
“I had been training hard for soccer season all summer just to find out they had moved the season to January. Then, it becomes stressful because of college applications, even though I only applied to four. After college applications, it was alright. I was pretty tired from four applications and two Forsyth Tech classes … And then all of the sudden soccer season started. It started off okay, but then it went downhill. I had lost all of my preparation from before and some things happened so the season didn’t go the way I wanted it to go. It was still fun for the most part. Then, I got accepted into every school other than Duke, so that was pretty good, but then I had to start prepping for AP exams so it became stressful again. Now I got two more tests left before I’m out, so it’s exciting,” said senior Wen-Shin Lee.
With these lessons comes a lot of newfound wisdom within yourself. Even though this year was extremely challenging, the seniors are grateful for what they were able to have this year, especially the little things.
“I’m thankful for everything we have had the opportunity to do from playing an actual volleyball season to going in person to school. It was very hard, very challenging. Senioritis is no joke. But if I had to sum it all up in one word, it would be grateful. For every little thing that was a small bit of what I wanted to do senior year. Road trips with friends, getting in and deciding my dream school, and getting a senior night to say goodbye to my years of volleyball. I’m grateful,” said Queen.
“I am extremely grateful that I got two months of a “normal” senior year. Although crazy, I will never forget my senior year and all of the people that made it memorable,” said Lomax.
Graduation Looks Different Again
by Lexi Antieau
As this school year comes to a close, seniors are faced with another obstacle: their graduation ceremony.
Rumors have been circulating as to what the NCLA graduation ceremony will look like this year. I was given the chance to talk to NCLA Assistant Principal Wood and a couple of NCLA seniors, who all gave me some insight into what this year’s ceremony will look like.
The ceremony will take place in the high school gym, just like it did last year. Each graduate’s family is allotted three tickets for floor seating, and if they need more, they are allowed to purchase up to three more tickets for bleacher seating. The main concern among parents and senior students is that their family will not be able to be together during the ceremony.
“Families may not be able to sit together in large groups if students are bringing more than 3 people,” assistant principal Wood said.
Senior Levi Antieau explains that he’s sad that he won’t have a large group of family members there as he walks across the stage. A lot of other NCLA seniors feel this way too and wish that the school would live stream the event for the family members who have to stay home.
Another concern among the NCLA community is whether or not the ceremony will be live-streamed. Wood explained that this year’s ceremony will not be live-streamed because the school feels it is not necessary. It was live-streamed last year because the school felt it was a necessity since they weren’t permitted many people in the gym. However, this year they are allowed more people, hence why the live stream will not occur.
“I do wish we were allowed a few more tickets. Many of us are having to choose family members and that is difficult when you love them all the same. I believe if we can have 800+ kids attend school for 8 hours, 300 people can come to our graduation for 2 hours. Because that is not happening, I wish they could simply live stream the graduation for our family members that were left at home,” senior Mollie Lomax said.
“This year we will do like we have in the past. We will create and edit a nice version of the graduation ceremony and share it with the graduates a few days later,” Wood said.
Wood later explained that there are no alternative plans for the ceremony and that it will definitely take place in the high school gym. Some families have suggested the ceremony take place on the high school soccer field so that it’s outside and families can sit closer together, but it doesn’t look like that option is being considered.
As of right now, there are no other special surprises planned for the seniors this year. However, seniors do have the option to go on the camping trip to Hanging Rock, and be adopted by an NCLA family. They were also given a prom and they will all be receiving a class t-shirt.
“I feel like they’ve walked all over us this year and not lived up to any of the promises they made at the beginning of the year,” Antieau said.
A few NCLA parents have been putting together a special book for the class of 2021. This book will most likely include cap and gown pictures taken by NCLA parents, senior pictures sent in by each senior, and some senior quotes that are typically included in a traditional yearbook.
“At first I was disappointed with no yearbook or senior pictures but I am so grateful for the parents for doing all that they can for us,” Lomax said.
“To our seniors, if you could make it through these last two years of school, you will be able to make it through ANYTHING that this life throws at you,” Wood said.
Our Year In Review
It is hard to believe that this historic school year is almost over. The 2020-21 school year has had many ups and downs, but there have been many good parts. Through all the bad that has happened in the last year the school has done its best to make life feel more normal again.
The year started with two groups. One group went on Mondays and Tuesdays while the other group went to school on Thursday and Friday. In the first week of school, there was a Covid scare and it caused the school to close for two weeks. With the school closing on the first day of school many people thought the in-school learning would be a flop, but the school prevailed.
“My favorite part of this school year is that the teachers seem to be much more understanding if you have late work,” said Calvin Zoelinger, a Junior.
The school stayed stable for many months after that with a few Covid scares here and there. As a school, we had the privilege to play sports against other schools this year with a few different rules.
“I am glad our coaches and everyone involved did what they could to get us the seasons we wanted. I automatically thought it was a win based on the fact we were able to play at all in this crazy year,” said junior Jonathan Floyd, basketball and baseball player.
For the first quarter of the year, online students were not required to join Zoom calls and were only supposed to do the work as it was assigned. This changed after the first quarter. After coming back from fall break we started having Zoom meetings for every class each period. This was a big change to how the school year worked up to that point. I feel it was a great change because I was getting the same education and direction as the in-person students but from the safety of my home.
“I got to work at home instead of only in class, letting me work at my own pace.” said junior Hunter Fox.
The group system continued along with the Zoom meetings up until the fourth quarter. Due to new rules and Covid regulations, the state allowed schools to go back to One hundred percent capacity while wearing masks. This was a big change for all of the students, even the ones that decided to stay home. The at-home students changed to only having Zoom classes one day of the week instead of the five days it was before.
Due to the size of The NCLA, we are able to do things other schools are not able to. Our school is one of the only schools able to have been able to keep students in person all year. The small size of our school also lets us still be able to do things like have a prom and other school events.
Lots of schools are not able to host their own proms this year due to Covid. Most schools would have too many people that would go and the crowd would be too large. Thanks to the small size of our school, we are able to have a prom and both juniors and seniors are able to go.
I feel this year has been a success for our school as a whole. Things will always go wrong, especially in the midst of a global pandemic but I feel we turned it around and made it a pretty good year.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
One in five Americans, live with a mental health condition. 50% of all lifetime cases begin by the age of 14.
“Taking care of our mental health is so important,” said NCLA’s on-site counselor, Mrs. Tucker.
This year the NFL has launched a series of videos, started by Michael Robinson, to address players, fans, and the general public about prioritizing mental health and wellness. Active players have branched out of their comfort zone by making videos to be posted, talking about their personal experiences with mental illnesses.
Las Vegas Raiders defensive tackle, Solomon Thomas, shared his personal struggle with depression after losing his sister to suicide in 2018. Other players like Joey Bosa and Ali Marpet, have also shared their experiences in order to try and “Kick the Stigma.” Aside from the release of this series, NFL teams, like the Indianapolis Colts, have launched their own fundraisers to raise awareness.
“Just like physical ailments can affect anyone, so can mental challenges,” continued Tucker.
Mental challenges can affect anyone no matter race, age, where they live, family, or faith. When one faces mental challenges, there is nothing to be ashamed of. An important part of personal mental health is being able to look at ourselves realistically.
Everyone has days where they do not feel themselves, and it is normal. But, if those feelings go one for a few weeks it is important to seek help. Also, if the feelings you’re having begin to impact your daily life it is important to try and talk to someone about the way you are feeling. NCLA has on-site school counselors who are more than happy to help in any way.
“This year has impacted my mental health more than any other year,” said senior Becca Nordstrom.
If you are questioning some activities that can contribute to a positive mental health, here are a few daily things you can do!
- Deep Breathing- deep breathing helps send a message to your brain to help it calm down and relax especially when you may feel out of control or in a chaotic situation.
- Spending more time in nature- walking in sunshine and soaking up Vitamin D are great for your mood.
- Gratitude- turning our focus away from what we don’t have to what we do have helps us refocus and energizes us.
- Monitoring technology and social media- having a healthy relationship with technology usage and social media can have a huge affect on our mental health. The endless feed of fun, filtered photos can often leave us feeling isolated and empty.
- Positive affirmations- the way we talk to ourselves has a powerful impact on how we feel. Start by choosing one positive, simple phrase that you can repeat to yourself when you feel negativity creeping in.
“Self care is more important than ever! Investing in your mental health is never a waste,” continued Tucker.
Pfizer Vaccine Available for Children 12-15 Years Old
As a crucial step towards COVID-19 recovery, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Pfizer vaccine for children ages 12-15. Rumors of this surfaced late last week when a government official announced that the FDA was considering the approval after months of trials.
Late Monday afternoon, the vaccine was approved, and now another wave of individuals are eligible for the vaccine, leading the country one step closer to safety.
During the vaccine trials in children ages 12-15, the vaccine “demonstrated 100% efficacy and robust antibody responses, exceeding those reported in the trial of vaccinated 16-25-year-old participants in an earlier analysis, and was well tolerated,” according to the Pfizer-BioNTech website,
While the company continues to research how younger age groups will react to the vaccine, the recent approval is exceptional news for those who are eager to get the shot- including some of our own NCLA Falcons.
“I really want the vaccine,” sophomore Lindsey Allen said. “It’ll make me feel safer because people in my house are immunocompromised.”
“I really want to get [the vaccine] to be safe,” freshman Nick Swisher added. “I might feel a little more protected, but I will still wear my mask and take precautions until it is safe again.”
Because of mass vaccination, CDC guidelines are shifting for those who are fully vaccinated. However, precautions while indoors still include the usual masking and distancing that we all should be used to by now.
While some families have been more affected by the pandemic than others, it has been challenging to find comfort in normalcy, especially everyday tasks like going to the grocery store.
“I do not go anywhere,” Allen said. “I do not like eating in restaurants or going to the grocery store. My family usually picks up our groceries now. I think this will change once I am vaccinated.”
“I do not think my life will change any,” Swisher said. “I am a little nervous about [the vaccine] though because I do not want to get sick from it. But, I think it will do more good than bad in the long run.”
Concerns regarding the vaccines side effects are normal. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids before and after the vaccine, keep your arm moving, and avoid taking pain relievers before getting the shot.
While nationwide progress is looking great, White House pandemic advisor Andy Slavitt warns the country that, “the worst thing we can do right now would be to mistake progress for victory.”
Upcoming Senior Feelings
Being a senior is one of the most exciting things teens look forward to. Many juniors at the NCLA that are getting ready for the upcoming school year are mentally preparing for the last year of their high school careers.
“I’m mostly excited about memories. There’s a lot of significant stories to tell my children that can come from my senior year, like the senior prank, senior assassins, and proms. I also look forward to having a student council again,” said NCLA Junior Abby Brannan.
Many juniors are excited to not have to worry about the next year of high school, and being able to enjoy being a senior.
“I am most excited about graduating, for sure. I can’t wait to have so many more options for school and to be able to figure out what I wanna do,” said Haley Frias.
Senior year brings many new opportunities and responsibilities for students. They have to juggle their last year of high school, taking the final steps to prepare for college, and sometimes even a job. It is a stressful, but enjoyable time for many teens.
This past school year has brought several changes to school life, and students are looking forward to some possible positive change in the coming year. Some students such as junior Jasmine Cook are hoping for some easier restrictions, like the return of two way hallways..
“I can only hope that the times in which we are living in will change. I know we have done the best we can given the situation, but I hope that sickness is gone, and restrictions are lifted. It has been so hard learning and staying motivated and disciplined this past year, and I think this would make everyone’s lives easier, more fruitful, and less stressful,” Brannan said.
“Adjusting to school in a pandemic was stressful, but that was to be expected. I do wish that I hadn’t been as nervous for the pandemic as I was at the beginning,” Frias said.
“So far I have enjoyed my high school experience with great educators, hard classes, and great encouragement from faculty and friends…. but what I do expect to change is when we near the end of senior year, the heartbreak that will come as we all go our separate ways,” Brannan said.
Overall, juniors seem pretty hopeful for the future, even if there is some anxiety surrounding leaving home.
“I am nervous, but not about the actual school year. It has more to do with what is to come after that,” Cook said.
“The future is a little like diving in the deep end and though I do not have it all figured out, there is no need to. Life is a journey and even once you have a set career, there’s more to it,” Brannan said. “I have so many facets of my life to explore and many doors of opportunities.”