In their own words

Class of 2020, Metro North: Together, apart

Area graduating high school seniors share their thoughts

Posted

Rachel Nguyen: Academy of Charter

Rachel lettered in volleyball, ran cross country and played soccer. She served as Student Body President and served as a young Rotarian Leader at the state level.
Rachel is attending the University of Colorado at Boulder for an Integrative Physiology degree on the pre-medical track. She has been taking prerequisite classes at Front Range Community College to knock some classes out of the way because college is super expensive.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
I miss regularly seeing the people that shaped me. Growing up with my peers gave me memories I couldn’t have anywhere else. My high school is very special to me. I could walk around the buildings and reminisce about experiences I had from six years old all the way up to being eighteen now. Although it’s been a tough time for everyone, I have good faith that my school is putting all their effort into helping us regain some lost traditions.
We have the Bridging Ceremony, where everyone shifts from their usual class spot on the bleachers and moves on to their next grade. I remember slowly moving from spot to spot each year, and when seniors leave their spot, they leave the building symbolically. Or Senior Prank, Senior Breakfast, Senior Open Mic Night and of course graduation.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
How I feel held back. I miss working, seeing my friends at school and having a schedule. On the bright side, I will never be late to class ever again this semester but being home with little contact with people gives you a lot of time to self reflect. Of course, I understand the safety precautions behind social distancing but it definitely pains me to not be able to get out there and do anything spontaneous. I feel my body deteriorating because I haven’t been able to be as active as I used to.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
I have had a lot of time to self reflect. There are bright sides, like catching up on sleep, never being late to class ever again and spending more time with family. I thought hard about all the memories I made, and things I learned from them. No matter how difficult it gets, that’s life. Unfortunately things have been very difficult financially, economically, and personally—and I will never forget this. I am keeping careful track of finances, personal goals and how I prioritize things in my life.
 

Unyque Romero: Hidden Lake High School

Unyque was a member of the Junior Optimists Club. After taking a year off, Unyque plans to continue her education with the goal of teaching kindergarten.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
The socializing with the teachers, that is who I mostly talk to. Being able to learn in person, made it easier to do my schoolwork.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
Everything, losing track of time. The lack of structure, and not giving myself structure right off the bat.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
Getting outside more is definitely a big help. Being able to bond with my family more, getting along on better terms. It’s good to give yourself structure and have a plan if something like this ever happens again.
 

Maddie Carlson: Horizon High School

Maddie participated in: cross country, track, sophomore-senior leadership, National Honor Society, Science National Honor Society, choir and the school’s honors program.
Maddie is attending the University of Iowa and plans to be a double major in Neuroscience and Human Physiology with a Spanish minor. She will be on a pre-med track.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
I miss getting to see the people I’ve grown the closest with over these last four years everyday. Sitting in each other’s cars, waiting until 7 a.m. to finally walk into school, having fun in class, and getting to spend my last moments in high school with the people who’ve shaped me.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
The overall uncertainty. There are a lot of tentative plans currently: graduation, senior trips, college starting, etc. All of these things are up in the air still currently and the not knowing has made each day tough.

What lessons will you take away from all of this?
To never take the time you have to be with people you care about for granted. I went from seeing all of my friends everyday to now just FaceTiming and texting each other. When life begins to go back to normal, I’m going to try extra hard to be present with my friends and spend all the time with them I can before we go off to college.
 

Tanner Hartin: Horizon High School

Tanner was in cross country for three years and track and field for two years. He was communications director for the National Honors Society and Vice President for Science National Honors Society.
Tanner is going to the Colorado School of Mines for Chemical Engineering on a full scholarship.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
I miss seeing my friends everyday that I won’t be able to see for a while and also missing out on all of the fun events that seniors get to do, like prom, our last assembly, senior spirit week, senior sunset and graduation.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
Not having my friends as my support system being around and helping me feel comfortable with what I’m going to do in my future
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
Life is often unpredictable and you need to be able to adapt and overcome adversity in order to thrive and succeed in the real world.
 

Jacob Loomis: Horizon High School

Jacob played football throughout high school, played basketball his freshman and sophomore years and wrestled during his junior and senior years. He was a member of Horizons Honor class, was involved in the Link program during his sophomore and junior years and participated in the Big Idea Project. He helped to create a middle and elementary school level special needs basketball league which placed in the top five in the state, won the most inspiring story award and was featured on Colorado’s Best. He attended Bollman's EMT program and plans to test for his EMT certification.
Jacob plans to play football for Dordt University in Iowa while he pursues a nursing degree.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
I miss the community. I miss saying good morning to the administration and walking to class with friends. I miss driving to my EMT class and learning about my future career. This has been hard for all of us and I’m just glad that Horizon has been so proactive with their thoughts for seniors.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
Adapting to online learning. It’s not easy to learn how to treat a patient using a stuffed animal. I had to find new ways to study and get hands-on activity for my EMT classes. That way, I can be the best medic that I can be before I take my National Registry test.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
Do the things you have always wanted to do before it’s too late. Don’t take your time for granted. Everything can be stripped away from you within seconds.
 

Lauren Strain: Horizon High School

Lauren played volleyball for four years and participated in Horizon’s unified basketball team.
Lauren will be attending the University of Northern Colorado to continue her academic and volleyball career.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
I really just miss the social aspect of school. Between getting to see all of my friends everyday and being able to talk with my teachers, it’s definitely an adjustment to be in my house all day, working on my classes.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
Accepting what it is — an uncertain time. Between not knowing if we’ll be able to have a traditional graduation with our class, trying to perfect online school, not knowing when we’ll be able to participate in our activities again, not knowing when we’ll get to see all of our friends again and not knowing when we can go back to how life was before —or if that’s even an option — I wouldn’t exactly call this time ideal.
It’s such a tough time for people, including myself, because we don’t know what’s coming next and that’s scary and it’s hard to deal with. But I think that’s why it’s so important to reach out to those in the community to check in on them and bring some certainly into their lives, even if that certainty is just that you’ll be there for them.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
As much as this time has been quite the struggle for lots of people, including me, it has been a huge time of growth. I have learned to manage my time better. In order to get stuff done, I’ve had to make a schedule for myself. I’ve also learned that I’m not alone in my struggles and when we’re blessed with time to push pause on some things in life, we have more time to reach out to others and build a community — even when we can’t necessarily see all of these people in person. Most of all, I’ve learned that, as cheesy as it sounds, you have to appreciate all that life gives you because you never quite know when it will be taken off of the table. That includes senior year, in-school and out-of-school activities and getting to see all of your buddies all the time.
 

Olivia Waufle: Horizon High School

Olivia played basketball all four years and was a four-year varsity letter. She was team captain this year and was thankful to complete her last season. She won the big idea project during her junior year, helping to create a basketball league for special needs students. OIivia was a member of DECA and qualified for state this year.
Olivia plans to continue her academic and athletic career at Chadron State College.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
I miss the people. Some students complain about school and never want to go, that wasn’t me. I’ve loved school ever since I was little. I miss being around so many different people. I loved getting along with different groups of people. I had a different friend group in every class, and to think I might not see some of those people again makes me sad.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
Knowing that I’m missing out on special memories. I know the future is bright and there are more memories to come, but I did really want to experience typical high school experiences. I wanted to go to prom. I wanted to throw my cap. I wanted to have my senior BBQ. One of the most heartbreaking thoughts to me is the students who didn’t get to play spring sports. As athletes, we look forward to senior season ever since freshman year.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
To think differently. I’m not going to be negative and say the world is ending, I’m thinking differently. I’m finding ways to make things work, instead of giving up. I’ve taken this time to hang out with my family, enjoy the outdoors, and come up with creative ways to work out. I know this isn't my “normal” everyday life, but I’m embracing my blessings. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right?
 

Jason Chamberlain: Legacy High School

Jason played baseball his freshman and sophomore years, threw shot-put and discus his junior year and was an Olympian for his junior and senior years. That is a spirit club at Legacy that planned themes and ran the student section at sporting events. He also was a member of the spike ball club and Turning Point USA club.
Jason plans on attending Arizona State University to study business.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
The thing I miss the most is having those final goodbyes. Throughout my four years at Legacy I got to know a lot of teachers and administrators that I became pretty close with. No one thought on that last day, “Oh maybe I should go say goodbye to that teacher or that admin just in case.”
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
Definitely, not necessarily knowing information. Until last week, we didn't know anything about what our graduation was gonna look like. Once Adams 12 released the graduation info, I think a lot of us had a big weight lifted off our shoulders.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
The biggest thing that I have learned in all of this is to stay hopeful. Having hope that all of this is going to end and that we're going to have a graduation has been the best way for me to stay positive. Being a senior during this pandemic, the craziest thing that I've seen is how fast people can come together, especially the Legacy community.
 

Talia Rotella: Mountain Range High School

Talia participated in a lot of really fun clubs including DECA, Art Society, NHS, Link Crew and Student Leadership. The activities introduced me to so many amazing people from all different parts of the community and gave me some of my absolute best memories!
Talia will be attending Colorado College as a political science major with a thematic minor in nonviolence.
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
I miss being able to share this time with other Mountain Range students and with all the teachers who have helped us get here. The end of the year is always a lot more laid back and it gives you time to just enjoy each other's company and reflect, so I'm really missing that opportunity right now.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
The toughest part is truly not being able to see my classmates every day. Our class in particular has been through a lot in the past four years and we've become very tight knit. I think that bond being cut off before we expected it has been pretty hard for everyone. People we used to talk to on a daily basis we now have only seen on video chat for over a month and we're uncertain if we'll all be able to be together again before we go on with our futures. That's what we're all struggling the most with.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
Watching our community come together through this situation has been truly amazing. If this had never happened, I never would have fully realized how supportive and loving the Mountain Range community truly is. Our teachers have worked extremely hard to plan things that are still special, such as dropping off graduate signs in the yards of every single 2020 student, or planning a virtual spirit week so we could all still feel some of that connection. It has shown us how to make the best of things and how to support each other when times are hard. Of course, it's not how we expected our last semester to go and it's not quite the same as being at school, but we've all worked really hard to do what we can to make this a fun time. We've learned to be grateful for the time we had together and make the absolute best out of what we have left.
 

Anthony Saenz: Mountain Range High School

Anthony was a member of Mountain Range’s boys’ swim team all four years and was the Captain both junior and senior year. He was a member of the school’s DECA Chapter during the sophomore, junior, and senior years and he qualified for the state and international conferences each year he competed. He also participated in several school sponsored events, such as spirit weeks, fundraisers, Peach Fuzz (Boys’ Volleyball), Four-Square tournaments and Day Without Hate activities.
Anthony will be attending Colorado College in Colorado Springs, studying Human Biology, Kinesiology and Spanish and swimming for Colorado College.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
Easy, the people. People always say that high school isn't like it is in the movies: cliques, gossip, drama, choosing the right lunch table. They are right, it isn’t. Throughout my high school career, I have met the most amazing, kind, unique, supportive, goofy, positive students and staff members. I don't think I can put into words my gratitude for my fellow classmates for making my high school experience what it was. There weren’t cliques or gossip or drama. Each student genuinely cared about each other, genuinely rooted for each other — and that created a very positive and supportive environment.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
I’ve been preparing myself to leave high school but the toughest part was doing it without a proper goodbye. I didn’t know that when I was walking out of my Psychology class, that it would be the last time I would walk down that hallway. I didn’t know I was sitting at my last lunch of high school. It feels like this chapter of my life, where I have grown so much both as a student and a person, will not feel fully closed without a proper goodbye.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
As cheesy as it sounds, I learned how important it is to cherish the present moment. I was always looking ahead to events that would never come: senior spirit week, yearbook signing, senior barbecue, last day of school. I focused on these events rather than cherishing what turned out to be the last few weeks, days and moments with the classmates and teachers that played such an influential role in my life.
 

Abigail Salamera: Standley Lake High School

AbigailI was involved in Student Council, Music Club, Chamber Orchestra, National Honor Society, Day Without Hate Club and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. She was also involved in Taekwondo and Colorado Young Leaders outside of SLHS.
Abigail plans to attend the University of Utah in Fall 2020 to study Information Systems.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
It is the fact that I don’t get to see my friends in-person every day like I used to, especially knowing that we’ll be parting our ways soon. These last few months were the best time to spend time with my friends by making the most of our last sporting events, prom and finals week before we leave high school.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
The toughest thing for me is finding motivation to make the most of this free time I have. Although there are so many new things I can try, the house limitation and seemingly infinite amount of time makes it difficult to set my mind to doing things I want to do, either being productive or just having fun.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
I believe my biggest take-away from all of this is that we should always live in the moment; don’t take things for granted. I often spend a good amount of time dwelling in the past — which is already over so there’s nothing I can do about it — or worrying about the future, but we’ll figure it out when we get there. In the meantime, all we can do is live in the present and appreciate it because no one truly knows what can happen next.
 

Noelia Salazar Acosta: Thornton High School

During her four years, Noelia participated in the choir, Model UN, LINK Crew, Sources of Strength peer mentoring, journalism and theatre.
Noelia’s plans after graduation are to attend CU Boulder and major in International Affairs and to eventually go into education.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
It's difficult to choose, because I miss it all. What I miss the most is simply not being around everyone. Everyday was always full of fun and laughter. There was always something going on. Not getting to have that for the remainder of the year was really sad.
 
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
The toughest part throughout all of this is that it is ever-changing. Things can quickly go from one to another and not being sure of when or how things will be better is really upsetting, especially because you have to stay away from everyone. It is a situation that can't truly be predicted and that is scary.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
A lesson that can be taken from all of this is that gratitude and unity can get us through anything. This is a very unexpected situation with many curveballs, but communities have worked together like never before and it has been amazing to see the power that has. It is also an important reminder of why we should value everything important that essential workers do for us, because without them we could not get through this. One last lesson that we can take from all of this is that there is good to all bad, and that hope is very powerful.
 

Enrique Ramon Bautista: Westminster High School

Enrique played football and was in the band his freshman year, was on varsity football his sophomore year until he was injured. He joined LINK during his junior year and Outdoor Education his senior year.
Enrique wants to attend college and study to become an Engineer.
 
What do you miss the most about not being on campus to finish your senior year?
The thing that I truly miss are the interactions I had with my friends, teachers and acquaintances. Even though technology is letting us communicate it really is not the same and I would rather enjoy my last last moments in high school up close. I wish I was able to see all the teachers, counselors and staff members that helped me in my times of need. I wanted to thank them very much and have a proper goodbye.
What has been the toughest part about going through this uncertain time?
I believe the toughest thing is to stay motivated for the reason of doing classwork at home. Being at home makes you easily distracted, to go along with the technological problems. These two things weigh down on you and try to make you lazy. But even with this problem it did not stop me from ending my final year on a good note.
 
What lessons will you take away from all of this?
One of my lessons that I will take away from this is to take nothing for granted. What I mean is to appreciate everyone in hospitals, grocery stores, distribution centers, and etc, for all they do.

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