Senior year has been different for the class of 2021.

We have missed out on many firsts and many lasts.

Senior year has been something I have been looking forward to since freshman year, but this year looks nothing like we would have imagined it. Despite having an abnormal year, seniors have worked hard and learned from it.

We expected to go to high school and have four normal years like our parents, grandparents, and siblings did, but sophomore year we experienced the effects of Hurricane Florence, and then COVID-19 hit during our junior and senior year.

From this, I have learned to be grateful for everything I have because we are not guaranteed anything.

These difficult experiences have caused us to miss parts of the school year as well as club and sports events. We have missed out on a lot, but East Duplin has done as much as they can to help our last year be more than staying at home for school. In September, we returned to school alternating one week on and one week off, with students having to sit six feet apart and wear a mask except when eating.

By allowing us to return to school 50/50, our Board of Education has allowed us to have at least some weeks of our year back in school buildings. When we are not at school, we join Google Meets for our classes, so we are still learning and seeing our teachers.

Many of my classmates were devastated that we would not have a full senior year while some are doing their whole senior year virtually. With the guidelines in mind, our school has also tried to plan senior events for us, but sadly, COVID-19 has caused many of those to be canceled or postponed.

Thankfully, we have been able to have our senior portraits and to submit our senior quotes, but we are still not getting the full experience of being a senior that we have looked forward to for the past few years.

Despite everything we are missing out on, I have stayed positive and try to focus on everything my class has gained.

So many seniors have been accepted to college and received scholarships, and many are still getting to play the sports they love. Not being in school every week has also allowed many seniors to get part-time jobs or help their families out at home. I personally got a job so I can build up savings for when I go to college.

We lost many senior events, but we gained life skills and time management skills by working online.

I can say that the pandemic has made the Class of 2021 stronger, as well as made us look forward to what is to come while being grateful for everything we have now.

I am hopeful that with the vaccine and with a decrease in COVID-19 positives in our area, the rest of our senior year will include a little more normalcy, a few more events, and that we will get to have a normal graduation in May.

Olivia Bradshaw is a senior at East Duplin High School.