Dear Class of 2021,
What a crazy 4 years it has been. We have been through so much, and have grown tremendously. We came in as excited freshmen, ready to conquer the world. We joined clubs, made new friends, lost our way on campus (multiple times), only to realize that high school was a lot harder than we expected. By sophomore year we felt more comfortable in this still fairly new environment. We went to football games, joined more clubs, and took electives that actually interested us. And then came junior year. As upperclassmen, we felt strong and confident. By now we knew who our real friends were, we were comfortable with the school environment, and we learned how to handle the academic workload. We even began to think about our future beyond Central, and what the next chapter of our lives would hold. Everything was starting to come together beautifully, and then….
Everything stopped. COVID-19, a new, highly contagious, and deadly virus took over the news. Schools and companies all over the world shut down. Our first reaction was: “YES a 2 week break from school!” Next thing you know, 2 weeks turned into 2 months. And 2 months turned into the rest of the school year. We spent 3 months in our homes attempting to learn calculus and chemistry from our computers while right outside our windows a global pandemic was taking over the world. Many of us were in shock, unable to comprehend what was happening. It’s like we were living in a bubble. Inside our homes, life felt like a never-ending lazy weekend. Outside our homes, the virus was spreading rapidly, and more and more people were dying every day. It left all of us wondering, what can we do to make this better?
After a long and uncertain summer, senior year began. Some of us were in-person for school, others were virtual. But what was most important was that we were all together, learning during the pandemic side by side.
Between school, the college application process, and the pandemic, we were under a lot of stress. It was difficult to think about the next chapter of our lives with all of the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. But regardless, we wrote our essays and filled out those applications and eventually pressed submit, hoping for the best.
In December, the COVID-19 vaccines were approved, and by April, anyone over 16 was eligible for the vaccine. As more people got vaccinated, COVID-19 cases plummeted. Hunterdon Central opened 4-day and 5-day in person learning for all students. The school was even able to organize an outdoor prom for our class. And the best news of all: we were having a real graduation.
And after what seemed like forever, the moment finally came. As we sat on Stewart field in our bright red cap and gowns, listening to the speeches of our fellow classmates, we had never felt so happy. Seeing all of our peers one last time, ready to move on to the next chapters in their lives was bittersweet. We have been through so much these past 4 years. Loss, tragedy, a global pandemic. And through all that, we made it. We will always be the class that survived the global pandemic. But we are so much more than that. We are the future. Our generation has gone through a lot, but we will take what we learned and use it to build a better world. A better future.
It’s sad to see our journey together come to an end, but our next journeys are just beginning. So, to all of my fellow classmates: goodbye, farewell, and good luck in all of your future endeavors. All of you are destined for great things, and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish. Always remember to be strong. Use your voice to change the world. Lead with your heart. And always treat others with kindness, compassion, and love. 🙂
From your fellow classmate, Editor-in-Chief, and yogi,