This school year has brought a variety of unprecedented challenges, specifically to high school seniors as they navigate graduation requirements, senior sports seasons, and post high school plans. As coronavirus cases continue to rise, the school year has drastically changed, with all classes held virtually over Zoom, and sports seasons currently postponed.
Jenny Jang, senior class president, listened to her peers and voiced that a lot of seniors don’t feel recognized in this current model. “To combat this,” Jang said, “my officer team and I have started to do senior spotlights on students that have been nominated by their peers.” This is just one way that students and staff have tried to make this year as interactive and seamless as possible for high school seniors. Mrs. Boelts, a career counselor at OHS, described some of the ways the school has kept seniors up to date about different scholarship opportunities, the college application process, and other post-graduation pathways. In addition to updates on Instagram, email reminders, and personal zoom meetings, Olympia High School also provides senior sessions on the 21st of every month to keep seniors and their families informed. Jang noted that “while not being able to talk to my teachers and counselor in person definitely presented a challenge, they have all been great at communicating over email and making sure all of my questions and concerns are addressed.”
Having senior years sports shift also changed the year for many seniors. Sophie Beltz, a senior and co-captain of the OHS Girls swim team, feels disappointed in the way her senior year swim season has gone, but is trying to stay optimistic for a potential spring season. While practices are not progressing at this time, “we are trying to stay connected as a team through frequent communication and team and Captain zooms. It is also much more difficult to create connections with freshmen without ever meeting them in person. Texting and even zooming with new swimmers feels much less personal and connective than if we were all together, “ Beltz says.
In addition to all of the new obstacles students and teachers have had to face, a new computer program, Naviance, was introduced to Olympia High School from the district this year, replacing the High School and Beyond Plan. This new program requires all seniors to input their information in the absence of in-person instruction on how to operate the new format. “It was definitely frustrating,” Mrs. Boelts remarked. She went on to discuss how it was hard to talk to seniors about the new updates of this program because teachers already had such limited time with their students. Prior to Covid-19, “I could just pop into teachers classrooms in order to update both teachers and students,” she said. In the current model, Mrs. Boelts has had difficulty giving teachers the necessary information and giving instructions to students over Zoom. Although she faces more challenges than in a traditional school year, she feels encouraged by the feedback from both parents and students and hopeful that the school will continue to try and make this year memorable for seniors.
Although this is far from a traditional senior year, both students and staff are working tirelessly to make it as engaging and enjoyable as possible.