Faced with e-learning and social distancing, Glenbard South seniors learn to adjust
Dejah Carr and Angela Shechtman are only two of 787 members of Glenbrook South's Class of 2020 who saw their high school careers come to a close in the school's drive-through graduation ceremonies last weekend.
It's a good bet, however, their classmates would agree with their views of a school year interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I would describe it as a huge learning experience, I would say, and definitely 'unpredictable' is one word I would use. Because if you were to tell me this is where I'd be nine months ago I would not be able to understand it," said Angela, a National Honor Society student on the Student Council's Executive Board, a vice president after three years as secretary. She also was student director of the school's variety show her junior and senior years.
"I just feel like everyone has the same idea of how their senior year is going to go in August. We saw how the year before went and I thought my year would pretty much go the same." she said.
Out was prom, the annual Spring Fling and, in Shechtman's case, a Model United Nations conference in April the group had been planning for nearly a year.
Carr was very active in and out of school. She was part of Glenbrook South's Peer Group program and for two years was a co-president of the school's Black Student Union with Raelyn Roberson.
Headed to Illinois State University's History-Social Sciences Teacher Education program, she volunteered with Glenview Youth Services and was a four-year participant in an LGBTQ Action Camp.
Despite her workload, for once Carr did her prom shopping early. Of course it went for naught. The best she could do was to share photos of herself in her dress to her friends, who did the same.
"That was fun, just not as fun as prom would be," said Carr, who at least got to help the Black Student Union celebrate Black History Month with the "superfun" Soul Food Fest at school in late February.
"My friends and I were talking about how we saw a couple of our teachers' prom pics," Carr said. "We were like, we will never have prom pics to show our kids in the future, and that was just kind of like a weird sentiment. I guess that's kind of sad, but at the same time we'll still get those graduation pics, I guess."
Students really had to work to make the last third of the school year special.
"Part of our graduation party normally would be a 'Senior Sunrise,'" Carr said. "So with my friend group we went and walked around Gillson Beach (in Wilmette). We sat six feet apart and we just kind of watched the sun rise.
"I know groups of people who would sit in the trunks of their cars in a circle, and they would hang out like that. There is a bunch of different ways that people have gotten around it while still maintaining good social distance practices."
For Shechtman, she never expected to spend so much time in parking lots.
She is bound for the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
She said online learning wasn't too much of a shock to the system, but Carr was not a fan mainly due to the lack of interaction with her teachers and classmates.
"Honestly, I hated it," she said.
There wasn't a lot to love about the back end of the 2019-20 school year. Going forward, Carr is trying to make the best of it.
"Learning to find a new normal and find the positives in your new normal isn't as hard as people make it seem," Carr said. "This obviously was kind of a (bad) experience, but I think that there are ways that it has been improved. Like me taking prom pics from a far-apart distance from my friends or still getting to see that Senior Sunrise ... Just the little moments, I guess, make all the difference."
One way or another it's been an education.
"It's been a crazy year, you know? But I think I've really grown up in the last three months, more than I thought I would," Shechtman said.
"I just feel like living in this area it is so easy to totally be consumed by just our bubble and to be so widely impacted by not only the coronavirus but other movements going on right now. It has really woken people up in this area, that there is so much more going on in life."
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