By: Stephen Smith

The year 2020-2021 has been arguably the most challenging school year for students, parents, and teachers alike. With the constant friction between our political climate and global health crisis, it felt as if society itself was split in two. Through all of this, schools still persevered through and dragged their students along the surface of a new frontier, virtual learning.

Virtual school was foreign to the majority of students. We were told in elementary school that High School would be the best time of our lives and never predicted that we would be spending a year in our homes locked away from the people we’ve always called family. The start of virtual school was initially exciting to me; it was finally a break from school (which at the time I took for granted). Following the events of the COVID-19 outbreak, I soon regretted that viewpoint and wished I would have cherished the time I did have at school. For a couple of months, I found myself thinking about old memories and old friends that seemed hopeless and far away from “the new normal.”

The Rough Drafts Podcast Crew (L/R) Katie, Lorelei, Alyssa, and me.

I was missing social interaction, so with the help of friends and the motivation of Joe Grates, Cape Fear’s Journalism teacher, I decided to make a podcast with a group of my friends.

This podcast was called the Rough Drafts Podcast, and we met virtually to discuss current events within our school and society at large.

The podcast focused on mental health. We made a point to put that at the forefront and created an open environment for a group of students to voice their pain and struggles from the school year.

When I felt as like I was alone, I found a platform to talk about it and connected with other students who were experiencing the same feelings in the same way as me.

The camaraderie of Cape Fear’s student body and staff is what kept us afloat. In a new prospect of learning, Cape Fear never settled for complacency, pushing for interactive ways to keep students involved.

The reality of my senior year has been filled with obstacles and has created a grim outlook on society and the events that took place over the pandemic. My viewpoint, though, is that all of this came at a time that was right for me. It sounds peculiar to say that the pandemic hit at the right time, because in reality there is no right time for a societal burden, but it created some of the most beautiful memories for me.

When I think about the conventional senior year, I think about prom and graduation and football games. The reality of my senior year is that I don’t get the conventional form of those events, in fact, we only get graduation, and at that, it’s not even normal. My senior year is filled with memories, a time where the whole world was watching news stories and analyzing data. My senior year allowed me to take a step back from the normalcy of the world and examine myself, something that I never would have done without being observant. My senior year was one of the most unproductive years educationally for me, but it mentally prepared me for the responsibility and independence that correlates with maturing and graduating from high school.

I don’t want to remember the ifs and maybes of my senior year if this happened…or…what it would have been like this way. I want to remember my senior year for what it was, a rough draft of the future of my life. A reminder to never settle for complacency, to allow myself to be flexible to my surroundings, and to make the best out of every opportunity given to me. 

So this is it. It’s been a wild ride. As Mr. Grates says, “high school is the best time you never want to have again.” I leave Cape Fear High with good memories because I choose to. I am stronger for having experienced the events of the past year.

CFNN Editor Stephen Smith- OUT!!!!!!

P.S. You Can Listen To The Rough Drafts Podcast Here: