The Absence of Senior Traditions

Madeleine Van Slyke, Staff Writer

Once again, seniors are facing a year of uncertainty in the world of the COVID-19 pandemic. They don’t know if they will be able to go to their prom or attend graduation, and college next year holds many unanswered questions. 

After an entire year of online learning, the class of 2021 was stripped of the possibility of a traditional senior year. COVID-19 came unexpectedly last year, and while people now know what they can and can’t do, many things are still uncertain for the future. According to senior Abby Goff, seniors from last year got the worst deal. Last year’s spring shutdowns led to many colleges scrambling to accommodate remote learning, and the incoming college freshmen were given what was, in many cases, a completely new way of learning. 

“I feel awful for the seniors who graduated last year and started their freshman year of college when everything was completely crazy,” Goff said. “Honestly, I much prefer this to that. I think we’ll be able to be in person for college next year, even if it’s just living on campus while attending online classes.”

As is the new usual for everyone, seniors are also rarely able to see their friends. The isolation is making school sports a more important activity, according to senior Elyse Hall. 

“I really don’t see my friends ever because of COVID,” Hall said. “Now, I’m just seeing the people I run with. My friend group has shifted in a way because I only run now, and I only see my track team. I’m lucky in the sense that I do still get to see people on a daily basis, and they have become my really close friends.”

Last year, the LASA administration organized a virtual prom in lieu of the in-person event. Students had mixed reactions and reviews of the virtual prom as it did not meet standards for some attendees, such as Goff.

“I went to the virtual prom last year with a friend of mine,” Goff said. “It was kind of awkward, so I really hope a virtual prom doesn’t happen again. It’d be fun to have an in-person one, but I don’t know if that’s realistic at this time.”

Hall described prom as one of the defining activities of a student’s high school career. In a regular school year, seniors would have a night of dressing up with friends, but with many safety precautions being in place that was not the case last year. 

“It is something that involves a big and tight community and I think it’s really difficult to replicate that,” Hall said. “I appreciate the fact that the administration did try to do something to make it a little bit of a normal year. I think it’s just not possible to make up for.”

Another LASA senior tradition that has changed in light of the pandemic is Senior Assassins. In the game, each participating senior is given a target within the class that they must then try to eliminate in some way. There have been a few more precautions put in place this year to abide by social distancing regulations.

“This year we’re doing it with Nerf guns,” Hall said. “You have to kill people from a minimum of six feet. You can’t get closer than six feet and you have to have a mask on when you’re killing someone, and they banned all play indoors. So very COVID safe.”

Seniors in previous years also attended football games with friends and family. Despite the changes in the spectating experience that this year has brought, such as crowd limitations and a diminished student section, some things have stayed the same, according to LASA senior Ella Neff.

“I went to one football game to take photos for yearbook, and I was surprised by how many students still showed up to support the team despite COVID,” Neff said. “I wasn’t expecting many students to be there, but there were a good amount, and the student section leaders were still leading the chants and cheers like always.”

Safety concerns did deter some families and students from attending games and sitting in the student section. Hall and her family agreed that the football games were very different from previous years. 

“Usually, you’re all cheering with your friends, and that’s kind of a great experience, just being with your friends,” Hall said. “It’s a really fun environment, and we all are close together and cheering together. I didn’t even go into the student section because of COVID — I just sat with my parents in the stands.”

According to Goff, many seniors are hopeful for a semi-normal freshman year of college and a meaningful graduation.