The Class of 2021: The Lost Year


Photographer: Malorie Glascoe

Class of 2018 graduating on the football field.

There is an ongoing debate about which class was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic the most. Some argue that it was the Class of 2020, as they lost half of their senior year and the beginning of their college experience. However, when looking at the total losses between the two high school graduating classes, the Class of 2021 suffered the most, as they had greater losses overall than the Class of 2020. 

Even though both graduating classes lost their senior prom, the Class of 2020 did get to attend their junior prom whereas the Class of 2021 did not get a chance to go to prom at all. Of course, those from the Class of 2020 who decided not to attend their junior prom did not get a prom either, but that is definitely not the case for most. Ryan Navarro, a Freshman attending California State University San Marcos, did attend his junior prom. “I thought it was a lot of fun,” he said, explaining how attending this event was worth it. 

Some students have taken it upon themselves to organize their own prom with their friends in the absence of a school-sponsored event. Katie Hahn, a senior from Huntington Beach High School said, “I was really excited for prom! Which is why I am glad all my friends are still going to dress up and do our own thing, but I do feel like having a school-organized prom would have been the best choice.”

Graduation looks different for both graduating classes, too. The Class of 2020 had a drive-thru graduation while the Class of 2021 graduates on the football field, but are only allowed four tickets per student.

Since each student is allowed four tickets, this means only four people are allowed to watch them graduate. This rule is extremely unfair to students who have divorced parents or large families. How are they supposed to choose who is going to attend your graduation? Malorie Glascoe, a senior at Huntington Beach High School said, “I wish I was able to have my family present. I come from a household of 6, plus a few more of extended family, all of which I am extremely close to. Without their support, I would not be graduating, so it is not only an injustice to me, but it is also a slap in the face for them. I know some students cannot have members present, or only have one parent, so it would have been nice if tickets could be traded instead of wasted. I was at my brother’s graduation in 2018 and I remember being so excited to follow in his footsteps, but that too was taken from me. I also wish I could say goodbye to my classmates whom I have not seen in over a year, which I am restricted from even though everything is reopening on the day I graduate.” 

The drive-thru graduation for the Class of 2020 allowed their whole family to attend and witness a huge accomplishment. Navarro said, “I did not get to graduate with my friends which was something I was looking forward to. Instead, I had to sit in a car with my family, which was still cool, but it was not how I expected it to be.” 

The graduation on the football field allows the Class of 2021 to graduate with all of their friends. Hahn said, “I am glad that they decided to let us students have in-person graduation, but I wish they would allow us to gather outside for pictures and last goodbyes. Instead, we have to leave right when graduation is over.”

Both graduating classes spent their last year of high school online. Glascoe says that the most upsetting aspect of being a part of the Class of 2021 was “not having a junior or senior prom, getting a [mediocre] graduation, losing out on making new friends, losing friends I already have due to loss of contact, and receiving a less than adequate education for the past two school years, leaving me more stressed for college than ever.”

For the 2021-2022 school year, students will be attending in person. The Class of 2020 got to ease into their college freshman year because of Zoom, while the Class of 2021 will not be as prepared since Zoom is, frankly, more busywork than true learning.  

Overall, both graduating classes got robbed of a lifetime experience that they will never be able to relive. Hopefully, the upcoming year will offer better experiences for everyone.