A solitary second semester

Seniors navigate a virtual second semester

As+the+second+semester+of+the+year+gets+started%2C+school+remains+virtual.+Seniors+who+have+been+looking+forward+to+second+semester+experiences+for+the+last+four+years+lament+their+missed+opportunities.+%E2%80%9CIt+definitely+feels+like+I%27m+missing+out+on+a+core+part+of+the+high+school+experience%2C%E2%80%9D+senior+Chabeli+Yumang+said.

Photo courtesy of freepik.com.

As the second semester of the year gets started, school remains virtual. Seniors who have been looking forward to second semester experiences for the last four years lament their missed opportunities. “It definitely feels like I’m missing out on a core part of the high school experience,” senior Chabeli Yumang said.

Riya Jones, Staff Writer

Twirling around the dance floor at prom, relaxing with friends at the local coffee shop after school, throwing graduation caps into the air as your high school career finally comes to an end–these are the images that come to mind when we think “second semester senior year.” But for this year’s seniors, many of these quintessential high school experiences won’t come to be, or will at least look very different.

“There’s no special events to look forward to, so it feels like we’re just doing the same thing we’ve been doing in first semester,” senior Taylor Kynard said.

But the lack of landmark events isn’t the only thing different for this year’s seniors. Even smaller experiences, like having more time to spend with friends, seem out of reach.

“Second semester is supposed to be full of fun and friends! You can’t really go places with friends in the current state of the world. You’re not supposed to go have time with friends in the normal way you would, which makes everything seem a lot duller,” senior Esha Khator said.

With limited in person contact outside of the household and no big events to look forward to, the days can seem to blend together.

“I’ve been doing the exact same thing first semester as second semester, so I don’t really feel any different now that I’m a second semester senior. It just feels kind of underwhelming.” Kynard said.

The monotony of virtual learning can make it difficult for all students, but especially for second semester seniors who are almost finished with high school, to connect and engage in class.

“When I had to go into class and see my teachers, that made everything feel a lot more real. I had to get this assignment in, I had to turn in this homework, I had to take these notes–but online learning kind of distanced you from other classmates and the teacher. So things feel a little less solid,” Khator said.

Another contributor to this warped sense of reality is that the school and home environments have now become one and the same.

“People are logging into classes. They’re not in a different environment that separates work life from home life, so it all starts to blend together,” senior Chabeli Yumang said.

Now that school feels less real, it’s even more tempting to succumb to the siren call of procrastination and fulfill the second semester senior stereotype. 

“With online learning, it’s way easier to get distracted because the distractions are right in front of you,” Yumang said.

However, seniors have come up with creative ways to stay focused and productive during the final stretch.

“I set a timer on my phone and just start working. I say to myself, ‘let’s just get through these first 30 minutes and it will be alright.’ I keep setting the timer for myself to motivate myself to keep working,” Kynard said.

Since social media and chatting with friends are often enticing distractions from work, some seniors try their best to avoid them.

“I limit the time that I spend on social media, either through website blocking, or by uninstalling important apps, apps that I get easily addicted to. I noticed I spent a lot of time on Instagram, so I uninstalled it,” Yumang said.

But sometimes reaching out to friends can be a help, not a hindrance. 

“The best solution I found is calling a friend. We keep each other in check. We’ll send our to-do lists to each other at the end of the school day and we’ll keep checking in on each other. Keeping a work buddy helps,” Khator said.

So although second semester for this year’s seniors isn’t unfolding quite the way they’ve envisioned, they’ve found creative ways to adapt to the dual challenges of virtual learning and senioritis.