Graduates in the Class of 2021: 464
Graduation Speakers: Devanjali Patel, Class of 2021; Mr. Jim Miks, English staff
National Merit Finalists: Susan Byrom, Samantha Corley, Maxtan Huynh, Patrick Klem, Sophianne Loh, Alexander Nowak and Nathan Reed.
National Merit Commended Scholars: Ryan Carlson, Bryan Forrest, Andrew Hahn, Thejas Kadiri, Madeline Kim, Stephen Lawrence, Eric Mattner, Clara Menninga, Christopher See, Emily Seriuk and Amelia Zollner.
National Merit Hispanic Recognition Program: Andrew Hahn and Nicole Olsen.
Extracurricular achievements: (science bowl, band/music, writing contests, etc.) during the current school year:
• Choir: Lucas Sprague (Sr.) named ILMEA All State recognition for composition arranging
• Eli Oremland -- recipient of the United Institute of Theater Technology -- Midwest Section's Mike Nielsen Student Award.
• Girls Basketball finished undefeated at 16-0; Finished ranked #1 in Class 4A (Unanimous AP Poll); Mary Kate Fahey (Sr.), Mary McGrath (Sr.), and Katy Eidle (So.) named All-State.
• Boys Basketball, Ethan Roberts (Sr.) named All-State
• Boys Soccer, Ronan Wilcox four-year Varsity Career, All Conference three seasons, All State two seasons, Hersey All Time Assist Leader.
• "Laramie Project: Ten Years Later"
• "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown"
• Comedy Sportz
What traditional events were adapted for the pandemic and how?
Spectators at events were limited, and most events were filmed or live streamed. Theatrical events were filmed or live streamed. Our annual food drive was a drop-off event that raised $10,000 and 10,000 cans that helped the local community. Chicagoland Showcase Show Choir Festival was completely virtual. Chicagoland Invitational Concert Band Festival was hybrid, with 8 live bands performing and 8 others performing virtually. Student Council held a Fall Festival event in place of the traditional Homecoming. Graduation was held outdoors with graduates sitting with their families. The Senior Prom was held in the stadium as more of a Ravinia-type event with a live band and fireworks.
Traditional events -- Senior Citizen Day, Senior Olympics, Back to School Day, Love Bus, all intergenerational projects -- were revamped to fit the COVID parameters. Partnering with the Arlington Heights Senior Center and Program Coordinator Karie VanGrinsven, SOS students created five different virtual programs over a span of 20 dates. The programs included Kahoot Trivia, Scattergories, Poker (for fun, not money), five unique arts/crafts projects and two live cooking demos.
• Partnering with the Lutheran Home and Villages, students developed Project Nightlight featuring student car parades on four dates throughout the school calendar. As many as 60 creatively decorated cars drove slowly through the campus bringing cheer to all quarantined residents. Music playing, horns honking, and the headlights flashing were meant to signal love and connection to the seniors in an attempt to cheer up their isolation. In response, LH residents waved and flashed their lights and flashlights to signal good night (hence the project nightlight name).
• Funner Olympic Carnival, which typically features 300 children with disabilities, was repurposed to host a much smaller event with our students at the LIFE transition program located at the Academy at Forest View. SOS students will host approximately 15 booths with various games and activities.
What were the most significant challenges faced by the Class of 2021 and how did they overcome them?
Similar to students everywhere, the restrictions due to COVID had the largest effect on this class. The uncertainty of whether or not they would get to experience any in-person learning and activities at any point in their final year weighed heavily upon everyone. Given the opportunity, these seniors rose to the challenges they faced to make the most of their opportunities. Whether that meant competing in front of no spectators, playing instruments with covers on them, singing while standing and dancing without singing, performing virtually or being taped, or attending class via Zoom each and every day, they were determined to make a difference in as many areas as they could. Through it all, the Class of 2021 showed their ability to overcome through their love for their community.
Principal's reflections on the Class of 2021:
This year's graduating class has navigated more challenging high school experiences than any other class in our nation's history. Those graduating from John Hersey High School have demonstrated persistence, tenacity, and an overarching positive spirit that propels them forward in a manner that assures me that they are indeed ready and excited for their futures. Well done class of 2021!
-- Principal Gordon Sisson