Seniors are granted an in person graduation


Reagan Zuniga

SHAKING HANDS: Katie Martinez shakes the hand of AISD Chief Officer of Schools Dr. Anthony Mays. Martinez’s orange cord represent her taking a college level course through UT OnRamps. “I’m really glad I was part of so many amazing classes that give you a look into the real world,” Martinez said. “I feel like those classes really shaped me into a better person and they prepared me for the world.”

Reagan Zuniga, Photo Essay Editor

Senior year is normally a crucial period filled with college applications or making other post-graduation plans, planning celebrations, and making memories with friends; this year was very different because of the Coronavirus. As the class of 2021 finalizes their high school career, they have a much different experience to reflect on.

“I was really looking forward to all of the pep rallies, football games, and student activities that come with being on campus that were canceled,” Ryan Kinney said. “Work nights for yearbooks have been virtual, and it’s been more difficult creating a yearbook online than in person.”

This was Kinney’s second year as an Editor-in-Chief of Bowie’s award-winning yearbook, The Lonestar. 

“One of the major problems has been motivation,” Kinney said. “Being virtual, the yearbook staffers lose those in-person relationships that help everyone keep each other accountable. It’s a lot easier to allow others to pick up your work virtually than in person. We’ve combated this by keeping in touch through apps like Band and Trello and checking in through breakout rooms every zoom and creating friendships between staffers, editors, and editors-in-chief. 

Senioritis, experienced by students in their final year of high school, is characterized by a decline in motivation or performance was especially present this year with there being no in person contact with teachers or other students.

“Senioritis really kicked in during the sixth six-weeks,” Kinney said. “Being so close to finishing, I’ve found myself moving toward the mentality of, how many missing assignments can I have while still getting an A? It’s definitely the least motivated I’ve been toward school my entire life, and being virtual allows me to be less inclined to finish assignments.” 

Staying motivated throughout a year with classes completely online and virtually no consequences for not turning in work except for a red late box on Blend has been quite a challenge for some causing seniors like Nick Val Lente to find ways to motivate themselves.

“Something that I learned for myself during quarantine has been finding the joy in little things,” Val Lente said. “Most of my life has been a time crunch of doing the absolute most, so naturally I’ve gotten my motivation from looking forward to things. During quarantine, when the world just stopped, I forced myself to find satisfaction and pleasure in simple joys. Whether it be feeding my caffeine addiction, planning a weekly virtual movie night with my friends, or exercising. ”

Similarly Kinney kept her momentum going with her own expectations of herself to finish out her school year strong. 

“My best resource for staying motivated has been my own standards for myself,” Kinney said. “I’ve forced myself to get out of bed on days I felt like I couldn’t and have tried to continue pushing myself to reach the levels I’ve previously reached.”

Teachers have had to overcome trying to keep their seniors engaged and motivated to do their work during a time where all their interactions with their students is talking to a zoom call full of black boxes.

“I tried to be realistic and honest, but still positive,” Psychology teacher Kris Grandinetti-Johnson said. “It was important to remind them of their strength and resiliency and that things don’t have to be the same to be meaningful. No one in history had a senior year like the Class of 2021, there should be a more layered sense of accomplishment to making it through.”

After twelve hard years of time consuming school work and extracurricular activities, seniors this year are able to close it out with a COVID-19 safe graduation ceremony on the last day of classes.  

 “I didn’t think we would have a graduation at first so it didn’t really concern me,” Noah Eng said. “As the date got closer though, I think I was happier with an in-person graduation. This year has been fake for seniors, we didn’t get to do really anything and school was a joke. So having some sort of human contact for graduation made things feel real and ended the year nicely.”