As a young student, I always heard that my high school years will be the best years of my life. The excitement increased as I eagerly awaited my time to walk those high school hallways and participate in spirit week, pep rallies, and dances. In the fall of 2018, my time had arrived. I walked into the high school building at Harrells Christian Academy as a freshman. I had a normal freshman year and was looking forward to the remaining three years of high school.

In 2019, I started my sophomore year with excitement as my class was gaining seniority in the hallways. We were looking forward to the year and all that it would bring. Little did we know when we left school for spring break on March 13, 2020, that it would be our last day for in-person learning. Virtual learning became the new normal during this year. We suddenly found ourselves sitting in bed, lounging in our PJs, while logging into class. Collaborative assignments looked a little different as we were grouped in zoom rooms on the screen instead of sitting around a desk. All activities for the year were canceled — no prom, no ball games, no pageants, no yearbook signings, no awards ceremony, and no immediate graduation for the senior class. We missed our friends and teachers. We missed our sophomore year. We missed our normal.

In the fall of 2020, our junior year arrived with in-person learning. Life was still not “normal” for us. We had to wear masks all day long. We had sports, but no spectators could attend. If anyone became sick, then half the class would be sent home to quarantine for two weeks. We didn’t have break time and had to eat lunch in our classrooms. This new normal was not what we had anticipated.

Finally, our senior year began with this new normal we have become accustomed to every day. We are still in masks. We space out for lunch but are allowed in the cafeteria now. Break time has returned. We have sports and spectators! We have adjusted to this new normal while not taking for granted every experience we have with each other. We know in-person learning is critical. We are healthier than ever while being mindful to take vitamins, wash hands, and cover coughs. We cheer harder and louder at ballgames than we ever have. We cherish every second with our friends in this final year as we now know how quickly it can be ripped away. What seems to be normal can change in an instant. What we looked forward to as the best years of our lives have been learning curves that have prepared us for the future. We are almost ready to take on the normal or not-so-normal years ahead of us as we have proven we can handle any challenges thrown our way.

Kensley Blanchard is a senior at Harrells Christian Academy.