COVID Took a Toll on the Class of ’22

Quarantine stole bonding time our class badly needed. But we should still fight to come together.

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Kristen Andrews

The class of ’22 takes an opportunity to bond.

COVID-19 hurt this year’s senior class in an unexpected way.  The class of 2022 is frozen in time, with divisions from freshman and sophomore year still intact that would have healed over a normal high school experience – still intact, because we never had the chance to outgrow them together. Our class is a unique class, and I believe we hold lots of potential, both as individuals and as a group.

“You know, COVID really hurt us, because we didn’t get a whole year to gel with each other,” senior Jonathan Ellwanger says. “Being at home was terrible for us.”

Our grade is not one that blends into the background. We’ve always been full of unique, outgoing, and strong-minded people.

“We’re all pretty openminded individuals, for the most part,” says senior Noah Moylan, “and highly motivated, for the most part.”

Senior Kyla Griggs says she appreciates the class’s positivity.

“I like our grade in some aspects, like they are very optimistic,” she says. “If something’s going on, they don’t make the worst out of a situation… they try to make the best out of what’s going on.”

But because of stark differences between people in our grade, like-minded groups have joined together and created cliques since freshman year. Every grade has its issues at the beginning of high school. It’s the result of groups of young people being exposed to people who have different opinions and world views than they do. That, in and of itself, is a normal occurrence.

But we missed out on a huge portion of our high school experience. Even among high schoolers in COVID, who all lost in-person time together, ours was a unique loss, because we missed the middle. The middle is a key time for growth in high school, both as people and as a class.

We’re also the first senior class to come back fully in-person after COVID. This has led to unusual grade dynamics. Everyone grew and matured in the time we were at home. But coming back to school, everyone still thinks of others as the same people they were two years ago.

This phenomenon leaves the class of 2022 stuck in the middle of our sophomore year, with seven months of high school left.  Many students I interviewed said they wish we were closer as a grade, and that COVID-19 screwed us over.

At this point, we don’t have drama like the younger grades. It’s simply that everyone has their own friend groups, and those don’t merge. Many people I’ve spoken to say they feel our grade is more cliquey than the average class.

“I don’t think our grade doesn’t get along. We’ve never had huge issues with each other,” says senior Char Murray. “I think our grade gets along because we are isolated so much within with our friend groups. Like, we don’t talk to each other.”

But we could. Even this late in our high school career, we could come together. Senior Claire Pupa explains why that matters:

“I want to be excited when I see my peers graduate and know what college they’re going to, instead of being indifferent because I don’t really know them that well,” she says.

I’ve heard mixed reviews on whether a class bonding trip or something of the sort would be helpful at this point.

“We just did a retreat for the 10th grade, which I enjoyed, and we definitely do some senior events throughout the year,” says Dean of Students Travis Henschen. “I can use [this article] as a discussion piece with the student leaders, and some faculty, and [12th grade Dean Josh] Carlin…. I think it’s a good conversation starter.”

With the administration already on our side, I think we could live up to our potential as a group. It’s not a small task, in the months we have left on campus.  But I love our grade, and I would love even more for us to get the chance to grow the bond that COVID took from us.