In a year restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Christian County High Class of 2021 reminisced about their years in school Thursday with a milestone.
Senior Reflections is a day for 12th graders to look back on their education experience from kindergarten until the present.
“Senior Reflections is to reflect on that first day of school and all your years in school,” said art teacher Paula Gieseke. “Whether they realize it or not, what this symbolizes is the beginning of the end (of their school career). It’s one of the last few events we do (for seniors).”
CCHS principal Matthew Boehman said seniors have missed out on in-person activities like pep rallies because of COVID-19. Some students enrolled in virtual classes, while others received non-traditional instruction.
“We want to make sure the kids this year get that experience,” he said. “They’ve done a good job this year. Whatever we’ve asked them, they’ve done their best. We want them to have as good a senior year as we possibly can.”
Dating back five decades to the Class of 1971, Senior Reflections is a special time for these students who have had few in-person events because of the pandemic.
“This is the 50th year for Senior Reflections. It’s pretty special. It’s a big deal,” assistant principal Megan Kem told the seniors. “Make sure you’re documenting this today. This is a memory that you’ll never forget.”
About 75% of the senior class dressed up in outfits resembling clothes they wore on their first day of kindergarten. Each student wore a mask and practiced social distancing throughout the program.
“They go to great lengths sometimes to get their outfits,” Boehman said. “Some of them will carry pictures of their first day of school with them. It’s just a fun time to reflect back on their journey from kindergarten to senior.”
One trio of friends illustrated characters from A.A. Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood with their custom-made outfits and masks depicting Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Christopher Robin.
Leandra Beasley dressed up as the Pooh Bear in memory of her uncle, Winston Hunt, who died from SIDS four years ago at age 7.
“His energy, his whole personality was such like Winnie the Pooh,” she said. “It was really adorable.”
Beasley said she appreciated the opportunity to relax in the midst of a hectic year.
“It’s one of those days we can all really enjoy, dress up and act like kids,” she said.
As the quieter, more laid back person in the group, Maranda Bealmear dressed up as Eeyore. After a difficult year, Bealmear sent best wishes to her classmates after graduation.
“(I wish) for them all to succeed and to never take anything for granted,” she said.
JaLeil “JB” Brown and his friends determined that dressing up as Christopher Robin was suitable for the senior.
“It kind of fit my personality more,” he said. “I have all of my friends and I’m always there for them.”
To kick off Senior Reflections, students paraded around the gym to show off their outfits for a costume contest.
Judges voted Brown’s Christopher Robin overall shorts and Piglet in his front pocket to win the boys’ category. Classmate Reece Dexter dressed up as Strawberry Shortcake to place first in the girls’ category. In couples and groups, Sarah Watkins and Maddie Larkins won top honors for their matching outfits and plush unicorn friends.
“We’ve had such a rough senior year, so I feel like this is the one day out of the year that we can actually do something fun,” Brown said. “All of us get to dress up. We get to act like kids. We get to play games.”
In another highlight of the day, the senior athletes gathered in the center of the gym with the dance team to perform to “Always Remember You.”
Despite the challenges of COVID, the Class of 2021 and their teachers also gave back to the community by raising $1,500 for the Rotary Club of Hopkinsville’s benefit the Hopkinsville Rotary Scholars Endowment.
The Rotary program gives high school graduates from CCHS, Hopkinsville High School, Heritage Christian Academy or University Heights Academy an opportunity to attend Hopkinsville Community College for free.
To mark the end of their fundraising efforts, student body president Ashanti Banks smashed a whipped cream pie into Boehman’s face.
“We’re raising money for Rotary, so it’s a good thing,” the principal said. “It’s all in good fun.”
Gieseke said she is happy the Class of 2021 experienced Senior Reflections and plan to enjoy an in-person prom and graduation ceremony this spring. The last day of school is currently set for May 21.
“It’s bittersweet, but I’m so happy for them,” she said. “I tell them I don’t want them to stay in high school forever. I want them to go on and be successful and have careers and have all the things they want in life.”