Seniors share thoughts on COVID-19, give advice to peers
The last weeks of a senior’s high school journey should be filled with solidifying plans for the future, donning formalwear for prom and celebrating graduation with friends and family. Instead, the Class of 2020 is navigating uncharted territory.
A group of 64 seniors from across Kansas have been selected to share their own stories and give guidance to their peers on how to transition from high school to postsecondary plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kansas Commissioner of Education Dr. Randy Watson asked Kansas principals and superintendents for recommendations for the Senior Leaders Conversation group. From that group, 64 seniors were selected, and the first conversation with Kansas State Department of Education staff members took place Tuesday, April 21, via Zoom.
“You’re going to give advice on how to navigate through all of this,” Deputy Commissioner Brad Neuenswander told the group. “We are so proud you are here and joining us. You are serving as the voices of our seniors. We need you to help guide us and help seniors.”
After an initial welcoming, students were broken into small groups with KSDE staff members facilitating each group.
Seniors introduced themselves and shared their future plans and then were asked to share their opinions on various topics, including who is helping them through this difficult time, what barriers they’ve faced and how they’re dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. They also were asked what they’d like to share with their peers.
“Expect anything,” said Alyvia Zeigler, a senior at Paradise Unified School District 399. “Two months ago, I had no idea I’d basically be homeschooled.”
There are about 30 students in Zeigler’s entire school, so being away from them is really hard, she said. Zeigler lives on a farm and plans to attend Fort Hays State University to study premedicine. She received her CNA while attending high school.
While the pandemic has altered senior plans, there are positive things to consider, too, Zeigler said.
“Seniors are in a bad situation,” she said. “But people with the virus have it worse.”
Drew Starbuck, a senior at Colby USD 315, said he is using his time to give back to his community. Starbuck’s parents are teachers, and he plans to attend Kansas State University or Seton Hall University to study international relations.
“We can’t change the fact that this has drastically changed our senior year,” he said. “When we think about this, it will be a moment in time we’ll always remember.”
Many students said they are learning from the experience, and it is preparing them for adulthood and their futures.
Conversations with members of the Class of 2020 will continue. A smaller group of students selected from the original group of 64 will be asked to share further conversation with KSDE staff members.
The 64 seniors, listed alphabetically by last name, along with their school district, are:
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