In a time that is proving to be anything but normal during the Coronavirus pandemic, society has been transitioning into a way of life that can be considered the “new normal.” For the Senior Class of 2020, March 13th, 2020 was their last day of in-person school at Bronx Science. To commemorate their year, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James held the first ever “Graduate Together” virtual ceremony, which included the likes of actor Timothee Chalamet, activist Malala Yousafzai, and 44th President of the United States Barack Obama. Our very own Bronx Science held their 92nd Commencement for the Class of 2020 as the school’s very first virtual Commencement Ceremony. For the Class of 2021, it appears that we are headed towards the second ever virtual commencement ceremony, given the current trajectory of the Coronavirus pandemic and the slow pace of vaccine rollout.
The school year was not stopped for the Class of 2021. Rather, it was changed completely, resulting in students sitting at home for hours staring at computer screens in order to attend virtual classes on Zoom or Google Meets or to complete online assignments in Google Classroom. For teachers and students alike around the world, it becomes challenging to stay motivated when every day may feel the same. Almost all long for a return to normality. Many students miss the small conversations held before classes, the trips to get food during lunch periods, and the energy and excitement that come from in-person classes. Saad Khandakar ’21, a fellow journalist, said, “I miss having journalism class in person, as it was my favorite class in all of high school. I also miss having lunch periods in which I can socialize with my friends, and I miss just getting to meet new people in person rather than on Zoom.”
While this school year is challenging for everyone across the country and the world, it is especially challenging for Bronx Science’s Senior Council.
The Senior Council is a small committee of seniors who work with the administration in order to plan events for the graduating senior class. Notable events include Spirit Week, senior trips, homecoming, prom, and, of course, graduation. The Council also works to make sure that the graduating class is engaged with their peers through social media and other activities. However, due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, planning such events in person feel like a distant memory.
In contrast to previous years, this year’s Senior Council is much larger. Meetings are held twice a week with Senior Council President Zoya Garg and Advisor Daniel McNickle leading the way. For the group of 20 members, the Senior Council Zoom meetings have not only been a place to plan, but to bond with members of the community dedicated to making this year a fun one, regardless of the Coronavirus pandemic and virtual schooling.
One way that Senior Council has been bonding is through game nights. Recently, members played the smash hit video game Among Us. As a member of the Senior Council myself, it was great to have an opportunity to make new friends and to take some time off from school work.
The first challenge that this year’s Senior Council faced was to make something memorable for the Class of 2021 to keep. During a pandemic where face coverings are absolutely essential, why not go with making personalized masks? The design was simple, but it highlighted the spirit of our class. The masks were met with success, with numerous seniors opting to purchase one. For Tenzin Dadak ’21, the mask looked better the more that she saw it. “The mask grew on me. I thought I didn’t like it at first, but I love it now.”
The next challenge was planning a way to commemorate the return of the Class of 2020 for Bronx Science’s annual Homecoming, always held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and a storied Bronx Science tradition. Through a digital platform called Remo, the Senior Council planned Bronx Science’s first ever virtual homecoming. Teachers were spread out virtually on different tables and floors, and students would click around in order to reach the teacher they would like to visit. It was a time to catch up with friends and teachers, and it helped to make up for time that was cut off in person due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately the event ended with a raffle, with the winning student receiving brand new AirPods. It was another planned virtual event and another success! The Senior Council is proving that even under challenging circumstances, they are able to adapt to the changed circumstances.
If the Coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it is that the Class of 2021 is a truly resilient one. When NYC public schools closed in March of our junior year, we adapted. When the vast majority of us chose to have our senior year at home through entirely virtual classes, in the interest of safety for our families, we adapted. If the Senior Council has shown us anything, it is that they are able to think outside of the box, successfully working to make this remote year a fun and memorable one for the graduating class of 2021.
“The mask grew on me. I thought I didn’t like it at first, but I love it now,” said Tenzin Dadak ’21.