By Natalie Luna
Spending senior year behind a computer screen has been a challenge for the class of 2021. For the graduating seniors, so many important opportunities to bond and make memories with classmates and friends have been completely erased to never again be re-created.
Although there are more activities planned in the coming months, even at this point, the Granada Hills Charter Class of 2021 has the privilege of going back on campus more than the class of 2020 who ended completely digitally. All seniors were able to go to campus for one day to receive their graduation caps and gowns and have their senior portraits taken.
However, this was a strange experience after all this time.
Simply walking onto campus was definitely different since the last time I was there. I felt as though it was very organized. Before COVID, the campus was always crowded, whether walking through the gates arriving at school, standing in line for lunch, or just walking the halls. Everyone would be walking around, grabbing a morning snack from the cafeteria, sitting down on the benches, some students doing their homework, some chatting with friends. In general, every part of the campus was occupied.
However on the morning of picking up my senior gear, it was eerily quiet.
There were cones arranged in the parking lot in the front of the school to guide the senior drive-through in the right direction to obtain their graduation tote, which included a cap and gown, school blanket, and graduation pamphlet. The seniors were scheduled to go in alphabetical order at different times and different days. So, returning back to campus for a day was very different this time around, to say the least. Despite the expectations involved with returning to campus, it was disheartening to not recognize any of my friends there.
Nonetheless, seeing the faces of the many classmates I hadn’t seen in over a year was still quite entertaining. Many of the students I knew had changed their hair color, added new piercings, and some even had tattoos.
Although not the usual experience, my junior year was my first year on the campus, so my initial fear was that I would not remember where my classes would be, and I would give away the fact that I was new. Within the months I was there, I studied the walkway routes so that I wouldn’t get lost, and I finally figured out the layout of the classroom locations. Stepping on campus this time around, it almost felt like I was a new student all over again. It was almost as if I had forgotten where all the classrooms were located since we had been off campus for so long.
Even for those who had been at GHC since their freshman year, it was an odd experience. You could tell by the look on their faces as they glanced around the campus in wonder.
In my experience, I am just glad seniors were able to get something out of the year, whether they continue with the planned senior activities or not. It was an experience that I would not have imagined looking forward to during my senior year, but it is nice that the school put an effort to acknowledge our struggle and reward the graduating senior class. This gesture showed some appreciation and recognition of what we have gone through and faced our entire year.