Katie Walters, CFNN Editor/Reporter

As the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year concludes, many are left blindly wondering what’s to come for school in January. The original plan for us to return to campus in October this semester was abandoned, as with final exams for this semester, which have been pushed all the way to February.

Students and teachers alike have had to face several challenges from online learning. Every situation is different, but we can all agree that there’s been a loss of connection, during WebEx meetings and through each other. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, we are not as strong as we were at the beginning of the pandemic. 

One group of students who are encountering their own individual struggles are this year’s seniors. After watching the Class of 2020 lose the last half of their senior year, the Class of 2021 was hopeful that everything would be back to normal by the time we got back to school. 

9 months later, this is not the case. We haven’t even set foot on campus since then. 

The outlook for an ideal senior year is not good. Keeping up an optimistic mindset has gotten increasingly difficult for everyone. After talking with some fellow seniors, one thing that all of us have faced is the battle with our mental health.

“I’m super depressed,” said Lorelei Harr, co-editor and reporter here on CFNN. 

“My mental health has deteriorated drastically,” Gabby Swenson replied, “Not being able to interact with others and build character through experiences has negatively impacted my social life.”

There’s a severe loss of human connection here. Whether it’s smiling at someone in the hall, or having a laugh with the person sitting next to you in class, these small moments make up important parts of our social lives. Several friendships that have carried people through high school have suffered.

“Close friends have shown their loyalty, but most people have completely disconnected,” said Noah Lucas. 

Many students have lost any motivation to do their work as well, myself included. One student said, “I’ve learned how to manipulate online learning, and cheat the system. I’ve lost the motivation to learn this material through a screen.”

“I am extremely unmotivated to do my work, which has spilled over into my personal life,” stated Stephen Smith, a reporter on CFNN.

“I think I will have to work on my work-ethic because the online schooling is not an easy way for me to learn, so I became very stressed. I fell into depressive habits, and stopped caring, so I quit doing work and submitting assignments,” said Brian Pearsall.

This is more detrimental to our health than some might think. Losing the motivation to finish out these last few assignments shows how little we have left, especially with the fact that we are so close to being done. We’ve learned to complete these things not with effort, but with the absolute bare minimum, just to get by. 

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, many seniors have said they gained a sense of independence. This will be beneficial in the long run, especially once we start college. Still, achieving that through our loneliness and isolation was not ideal. With the upper hand leaving many things uncertain, it’s hard to have a clear idea on how a normal in-person class should be taught virtually. 

This frustration does not just reach teachers, but the students too. “There could’ve been a way to handle America’s education for our generation other than throwing them in front of a computer,” one student stated.

“I have a lot less respect for the school board now.”

Some are still finding the positive side of this situation.

“They’ve done their best, but we’ve been left in the dark for too long, and that adds unneeded stress.”

“They did the best they could for being unprepared.”

Either way you choose to look at it, we can’t deny how much things have changed. As someone who once truly enjoyed school, my heart aches at the fact I will never be able to enjoy it like I once did. I resent online learning and the toll it has taken on me.

It hurts to get out of bed each day. It hurts to stare at a computer screen for long hours each day. It hurts to see what has become of my education. 

It hurts to join a class and see only names and initials, no faces, of people I once knew. It seems as if the years we have spent with each other never mattered, and we will never get to say a true goodbye. 

We can understand the Class of 2020’s pain now with having to end so suddenly. 

All we can do in our situation, however, is wait. We just have to wait until the days that repeat themselves will finally end. 

This should be one of the most important parts of our lives. Yet, it’s here, and with not even a glimpse of the ideas we once dreamed of. I asked each senior I talked to that if they had the choice to redo their senior year in a completely normal setting, would they do it?

“No, I wish I could’ve changed it, but I wouldn’t go back and redo it, I’m hoping that no other students will have to go through this.”

“Yeah, I would if I was in a normal classroom environment.”

“Yes, we missed out on so much and I wish I could get that time back.”

“I would redo senior year in a heartbeat.”

“Yes I would.”

It’s clear that this year is something all of us will remember, but this year’s seniors will have to bear this unfortunate experience for the rest of their lives. Remember, they have not finished this year yet. There is still time to make this right. For now, we will continue to persevere through every remaining mundane day.