It may be a cliche by now, but the past three years since COVID have been difficult for many reasons.
For school districts and students, the pandemic severely altered the way high-school students may have predicted or hoped their experiences would go, with the loss of sports, school events, clubs and activities.
For students in the Class of 2023 at Shawnee, the majority of their high-school years have taken place following the start of COVID, so the bulk of their education as Renegades ended up being much different than anticipated when they first reached the Medford school’s halls.
For that reason, advisors and members of this year’s graduating class sought ways to make their final year at Shawnee a positive one. That included starting the 2022-’23 year with a new tradition: a senior sunrise event on the football field turf.
Devon Cummings and Zach Baer, both teachers at Shawnee who serve as advisors to the Class of 2023, graduated from the school in 2013, so their goal is to provide the best high-school experience possible for graduating seniors a decade after their own.
The sunrise event, Cummings said, felt like the best possible way to start things off.
“The event is pretty simple: The seniors are invited to bring some towels and blankets to watch the sunrise at the start of their senior year, a symbolic start to their last year at Shawnee,” she explained. “We were able to get bagels donated from Medford Bagel Shop and some other breakfast items for them as well.
“It’s a nice way to get the class together to start the year off.”
Cummings said the idea came from a few students who noted something similar at other schools. The senior sunrise, originally planned for the first day of school last Wednesday, was postponed until the following day because of the weather.
Such special and unique events, Cummings said, can allow current seniors to experience positive moments despite unplanned changes in the past three years.
“We are so excited to have the opportunity to experience a normal start to the year,” she said. “Because of how abnormal these past few years have been, we want this year’s senior class to be able to experience the best parts of high school.
“Having the entire class together has not been possible for most of their high-school years, so that is what we want to do as much as possible this year. The high-school experience shapes so much of our students’ lives, we want to provide them with opportunities to enjoy themselves while they are still at Shawnee.”
According to Cummings, more senior-only events are in the works for the year, with one potentially happening every month. Among the results could be a senior sunrise celebration during the last week of school.