For the class of 2021, instead of becoming a Second Semester Senior, it faces the prospect of Seasonal Senior Sadness. With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, college application season in full gear and the loss of human interaction putting a damper on what many say should be the best year of high school. No more last-minute trips to Trader Joe’s for a lunch salad or finally beating every grade during spirit week or sitting on the senior deck for the first time.
It has been difficult for many seniors.
“Right now I think the thing I miss the most is just seeing my classmates and saying hi to people that aren’t in my close circle,” senior Jenna Tetzlaff said. “School’s definitely a great place to catch up with classmates and friends that you don’t usually see after school or on the weekends.”
Tetzlaff said the disappointment is even worse because she has been excited about being a senior since elementary school.
“It’s a bummer for sure, but right now I’m hoping the new hybrid schedule will make it feel a little more like what I expected this year to be,” Tetzlaff said.
Unfortunately for Tetzlaff, it appears that secondary PAUSD students won’t be returning to a full hybrid model this year.
Wellness Outreach Worker Whitney Aqinuo, though, said she understands what seniors are going through, missing the feeling of being at school and socializing with their friends.
“Grief doesn’t just take place when we lose a loved one; it can be a rejection, a breakup or the loss of an event that will never take place,” Aqinuo said. “For some seniors, they’ve been looking forward to senior events for some time now as rites of passage; to celebrate how far they’ve come, their accomplishments and their hard work. Now that some of these events have been rescheduled or altered due to the pandemic, many are experiencing it as a loss.”
But Aquino said students can do to a lot of things to try to feel better and take care of themself such as exercising daily, getting enough sleep and eating well.
“While students may not have a traditional senior year, it will be a very unique one, and it can feel reassuring to know that there are others who understand exactly how you feel,” Aquino said.
In fact, Aquino said the pandemic has helped some people see things in life they may have taken for granted and allowed them to be more grateful and mindful.
To help students cope, the Wellness Center provided a Give Thanks, Give Back November calendar that had each day filled with ideas and events students could focus on in gratitude. Aquino said the Wellness Center’s main goal is to make sure students feel supported during these difficult times.
“We want to validate what people may be feeling and experiencing, encourage them and raise awareness about the resources and supports available to help,” Aquino said. “We want to share ideas for healthy activities and positive outlets so that people feel empowered with their own coping toolbox of skills and resources they can use any time.”
Also to help support senior wellness, ASB Spirit Commissioner Sabrina Chan said she has been working with the other ASB Spirit Commissioner, Joy Xu, to figure out how to make senior year fun online.
“If safe and given admin approval, Joy and I would like to plan an in-person spirit week or some variation of it sometime in late spring,” Chan said. “However, since plans are changing every day, it is really difficult to predict events so far in advance. We understand that students are lacking that social aspect in distance learning, and currently we are only able to plan virtual events.”
Chan said ASB has discussed creating events such as an Among Us student tournament, and a Palo Alto-wide open mic competition with local high schools.
Chan said. “This will also allow us to plan events with more of an in-person aspect.”