Four Years and the Class of 2023

To say the corny, overused statement that yet another high school class has “made it’’ to graduation would be an understatement for the class of 2023. Our journey was everything, quite literally everything, other than ordinary or familiar. Traveling back to 2019, when we first entered the halls of Fenwick High School as true Friars, our biggest concern was making sure that we got on and off at the right train stops and not get lost in the historic Hogwarts building for a school. As we grew older, however, our sense of innocence quickly dissolved out of necessity to adjust to the developing world around us. It seems like in a blink of an eye the doors that were parted open for us – full of new people, opportunities, and experiences that is high school – were slammed forcibly shut in our faces. As we began to build new friendships, bonds with teachers, and comfortability in the atmosphere around us, we were then forced to be alone and isolated – experiencing our vigorous education virtually. Initially there was little worry about this “temporary” separation from our classmates. There were plenty of students just excited that their first experience with high school final exams would be cut short. Additionally, the opportunity to now have virtual assemblies acted as a catalyst for most students to get an extra hour of sleep – while still paying attention of course. Yet, there were also plenty of students that experienced extreme physical, emotional, and mental hardships. Battles with sickness, loneliness, depression, and anxiety were all prevalent within the Class of 2023 while at home. For many, the ability to adequately learn and not just get by was also difficult. Nonetheless, because of these hardships, mental health became an extremely important and passionate topic for the ‘23 Class. Due to our forced distance, our class made sure to find ways to connect with one another in order to maintain relationships, stay connected, and ensure that the mental health of their peers were stable. Social media apps such as TikTok were major platforms where students could not only entertain themselves for hours – but express and share their creativity with friends and people around the world. In addition, Covid was also a time where deep reflection could be had. Senior, Donnie Stanton said, “I discovered the love I have for cooking and the importance of family as I remained in the house with them during Covid-19”. In many ways the Covid experience can be seen as a blessing in disguise because of its ability to unite the class, arguably more than previous years. As we eventually transitioned into a hybrid year of learning in 2021, the class of 2023 was excited to reconnect with friends and teachers and pursue a full school year as normal as possible. Still with the expectation to wear masks, there was a visual barrier to connect, but the opportunity to gather in one space together overshadowed that. When asked what was most enjoyable about the new hybrid learning process, senior Morgan Fisher said, “I liked that we got to do things at our own pace. The administration was also very reasonable and understanding”. However, when asked about the hardships during the hybrid year, Fisher explained that she missed playing soccer because “it was her only source of exercise, while also having fun with my friends”. Despite the many attempts to carry on as usual, it was clear that there was still a disconnect amongst the 2023 class. Third years the charm right? Only warranted with half a year of masks, the 2022 year appeared very promising. Sports were back in full effect and the strictness on dress code seemingly lowered, so there were many pluses to the year. Senior volleyball captain, Shannon O’Laughlin, expressed her excitement at finally experiencing a full year in person; saying, “I am a pretty outgoing person and I definitely had a hard time not being able to see the people I love everyday. But I was really looking forward to seeing my friends in person again!” Finally, the 2023 class had, technically, their first year of high school. As the new leaders of the school, this year’s senior class was determined to make it their best yet. With the year not even done yet, this senior class has produced multiple regional and sectional victories in various sports, national merit scholars, musical prodigies, nationally recognized artists, and college committed athletes. The foreseeable future is and will continue to be very bright for this class. The grit and determination needed by an individual to be a part of the 2023 class is rare. Senior, Colin Crotty, expressed his gratitude for his class saying, “there are so many phenomenal people in this class and being away from all of my friends really put into perspective how much I should enjoy my friends while they are still here”. Although slightly corny, I don’t think of our class number as a coincidence. The number 23, being significant to Michael Jordan and his historic basketball legacy, fits accordingly to the class of 2023 and their accomplishments in the eye of adversity. We’re simply legendary, stepping into our legendary era.