By Aaliyah Shipe
Three years ago, at the onset of COVID-19, the class of 2023 were terrified freshman. This year, they are the first graduating class with no restrictions whatsoever. Today I lay my pen aside and allow their story to come full circle. Aaliyah Shipe wrote the first story for The Tennessee Tribune on March 21st of 2020 as a scared freshman watching the world shutdown around her and her fellow classmates around the world as COVID began to ravish the world. Here, as a confident senior, in her own words, is the rest of their story.
— Vivian Shipe
KNOXVILLE, TN — Looking back, I remember my first day of Freshman year. Walking into high school, I was terrified and couldn’t wait to get out. Nothing seemed to change, I think I was the only freshman to have senioritis. I didn’t make many friends that year and everything was still new to me. Everyone I knew had always told me to enjoy high school because it goes by quickly. However, 15-year-old me of course didn’t believe them. I guess I spoke too soon about wanting to get out. March came around and we were about to leave for spring break. I remember saying to all my friends and teachers that I would see them after spring break. Little did we know that over break, COVID-19 would change our course for the next three years; leaving us with fears of whether we going to lose someone close to us to covid, to the fear of never having a senior year like the classes before us.
Sophomore year, I thought would be cool. Our freshman year was cut short because of covid. We now had to do online and in person classes. It was alright, I guess. It was definitely fun when we were able to wear pajamas and take classes in bed. Sadly, many of us never got to experience getting a permit or driving to school. I think the worst part was wearing a mask but at least they kept us safe.
Junior year started and it kicked our buts. ACT testing means it’s getting serious, and we had to start applying for colleges. Besides being stressed, it was a fun year. Things were slowly changing. We took a school trip, over 50 of us, and we didn’t have to socially distance ourselves. Lots of people in school still got covid throughout the year, but the pandemic was starting to get better, and we were somewhat getting back to normal living,
Senior year started and we realized, this was it. Four strange and crazy years together. I would give my fellow classmates the world, and it hurts to know that after we walk across that stage that there are some we may never see again. Four years of loving memories I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
Knowing we are the first class to truly have a normal graduation ceremony since COVID-19 makes me happy. We can hug each other, and we get to be together without the hindrances of a mask. We have come so far, and we have been through so much. We have grown into loving and maturing young adults. Looking ahead, we have adulthood and college to think about.
We can do it, I know we can!
Congratulations to the Class of 2023
We Made it!