To the Class of 2021

To the graduating class of 2021: 

For most of you, graduation looks different this year. Actually, let’s get real, it is totally not how you pictured it would be. As a freshman, you dreamt about what it would feel like to be rounding the corner of the second semester of your senior year. You envisioned receiving an acceptance letter to the college or university you had your heart set on since you were a child. You relished in the idea of celebrating this acceptance with your friends and family and you just couldn’t wait to sport a t-shirt with your new school’s logo on it.

Maybe you wondered what your senior year prom would be like. Who would you go with? Where would you take pictures? Where would you go to dinner? What would you wear? Or, maybe you considered what it would be like to play in your last high school sports game. Or, to be recognized as a senior with years of hard work under your belt. Did you think about what it would be like to speak at your graduation? What would you leave your class with? 

You played graduation day over and over in your mind, visualizing the crowd of people in the bleachers cheering you on. You anticipated the surreal moment of taking in the smells, sounds, and sights of your high school for the last time as a student. 

Now, you sit with the reality of having a virtual graduation. Maybe you’ve found yourself with tears running down your face, feelings of anger festering within you, or maybe you’ve reached a place of acceptance. The grief process doesn’t just happen when we lose someone. Grieving can occur when a role that we play changes. For you, in this season, that is the role of the student. The script that said you as a student would graduate inside your school building or outside on your football field alongside your classmates has been altered. 

While you may not be playing the part of the graduate that you thought you’d be playing, you are still indeed fulfilling the role – it just doesn’t look the same. What if you made the decision to write a new script for the role of the graduate in 2021? What might you do to make these last couple of months leading up to graduation day and the day itself meaningful? 

Here are some ideas: 

  1. When you can’t go to senior day, have senior day come to you! Organize a fun event in your backyard at your house with a close group of friends.
  2. Come up with an alternative to prom night. Maybe you dress up and go to dinner with friends. 
  3. Have a celebratory potluck dinner with your classmates.
  4. Make dinner reservations at your favorite restaurant and invite your friends or family. 
  5. Start a Facebook page with your senior class and come up with prompts to ask your classmates. (e.g. What are you the most excited for about this next chapter?)
  6. Take pictures in your cap and gown. 
  7. Send out graduation announcements.
  8. Have a graduation party. 
  9. Put together a personalized graduation ceremony with your friends and family where you all watch your graduation virtually. You may even have a little fun with it and stage a fake graduation ceremony where someone hands you a piece of paper with your name on it and your friends and family cheer you on. 
  10. Write a letter to your future self detailing the highs and lows of your senior year so you can look back on it later in life. 

You never know, you may look back at this year one day and see how it led you to grow in ways that you may not have otherwise. Allow yourself to take a deep breath. Phew. You are so close to the finish line! Congratulations to the class of 2021!

Charly Fulp

Mental Health Student Intern

Learn More