School changes in the pandemic have been a hard pill to swallow for everyone at Cherokee: students, teachers, and staff alike. But perhaps these changes have been hardest on seniors, who have seen three years of Cherokee at its best. Seniors, who now have to deal with the changing school environment in an already stressful time, filled with college applications and homework.
For most senior students, the school year begins with lasts: the last teachers you’ll ever have, the last classes you’ll ever take. For the class of 2021, it began primarily with firsts. It was the first time seniors would have to lose connection with half of their peers through hybrid learning, and the first time they would lose the hour of lunch-and-learn they’d grown so accustomed to.
Current Cherokee seniors spent most of their high school years looking forward to a multitude of classic “senior perks” at Cherokee. In the current pandemic, however, the question of whether these events will be recognizable, or even around, is an unanswered one. What should be an all-around exciting time for seniors has become an incredibly stressful one. Senior students are now forced to grow accustomed to an alien environment at Cherokee; instead of celebrating their last year in the “old Cherokee” that they knew and loved.
So why should teachers “take it easy” on their seniors? Shouldn’t seniors simply accept their current circumstances and make the best of them, just like everyone else?
Yes, and they have been doing so. Seniors this year have taken their circumstances in stride, still attending football games when they can, appreciating their school, joining clubs, and bringing energy and enthusiasm to their studies. Still, there is no doubt that the pandemic takes its toll on everyone’s mental health. This is especially true if you are a young person trying to make the best of a difficult situation (like a senior year in tatters) that should have been something fun.
As seniors juggle college applications, homework, clubs, and their own family and friend relationships, all in the middle of a global pandemic and hybrid learning, stress becomes as contagious a disease as the corona virus. Teachers may consider not posting that extra assignment on Friday night, or not announcing a new project during the last few days of a marking period.
At the end of the day, it’s a stressful time. Cherokee’s students are no more immune to drops in mental health or energy than they are immune to covid. The stress epidemic is one that is silent but deadly, and it is also one that should be closely monitored. The negative effects of stress are well-known: it can cause fatigue, anxiety, and even lead to more serious effects, like depression.
It comes down to mutual effort as it always does: give and take. And as Cherokee seniors (and other students) muster energy and enthusiasm to give to their school environment, teachers may consider cutting their students some slack every now and again, especially when they notice collective wellbeing in their classes waning.