Senior year — a time to rule the school and a time of farewells. A time to dream of tomorrow and to make future plans. A time of historic traditions and an unfurling future.
Kim Beam, counselor at Hillsboro High School, described the many decisions seniors face, whether they’re looking toward college or the workforce. Beam described the advantages and disadvantages of both options.
College, she said, often comes with “more career choices for students,” as well as “additional pay in many cases.” Conversely, students entering the workforce, she said, have the advantage of earning an income and supporting themselves.
Disadvantages of the workforce, without additional job training, include a smaller job selection or limited advancement. Drawbacks of college include its cost and the time it requires.
Whichever path students take, Beam said, there are still “many decisions to make,” from scholarship applications to resume-building and beyond.
“There isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario,” she said. “However, the decisions that they make will hopefully lead them to become independent and successful adults.”
She added, “Senior year is a fun and exciting time. There are many decisions to be made and (it) can at times be hectic and stressful. However, it is a time of celebration, too.”
Bruce Robson, senior class advisor at Hillsboro High School, said, “The student body all get excited about graduation.” Juniors, he said, play a role, and both the band and choir participate in the ceremony.
Following graduation practice is a banquet, Robson said. And, the day after practice, the seniors go to Kings Island.
Seniors at Whiteoak High Sachool also go on a special trip. Principal Michael Roades said this year’s trip was a tour at Paul Brown Stadium. Other traditions include a senior sign that is placed in the gymnasium during graduation, as well as a senior slide show, featuring both baby and current pictures.
But some of the most memorable moments have come from senior pranks – all of which are approved by the principal.
“One was quite interesting,” Roades said, describing a prank where students moved a classroom outside. “It was pretty funny.” Another prank Roades recalled was an overnight campout in the parking lot, which was teacher-sponsored.
However, above all, Roades said students are focused on getting their diplomas. “That’s the ultimate goal,” he said. “(It’s) one of the most important pieces of paper you’ll have in your life.”
Traditions also play an integral role at McClain High School. Senior class advisor Jarrod Haines said that on the Thursday before graduation, there is a senior assembly where students can “show off their talents.” The performances, he said, are the students’ own and they “have their own time.”
Following the assembly is a senior tea, with cookies and punch, he added.
Baccalaureate is also an important part of senior year at McClain. During that ceremony, students are allowed to “walk down the marble stairs for the first time.” Only graduates are allowed on those stairs. “It’s a huge tradition,” Haines said.
Graduation, he added, also has an impact on the community as a whole. “For alumni, it’s just a flashback of historic value and how significant our school building is.”
And, last year, Haines said, a new tradition was added to McClain’s timeless roster. Following the school-wide community service day is a senior-send off, which includes different activities in celebration of the seniors’ last day.
In Leesburg, senior class advisor Amy Buddelmeyer, said the seniors’ last day will include a breakfast prior to graduation rehearsal, and then a picnic and games afterward.
She described this year’s senior class, saying that Fairfield Local High School has “a lot of kids with some pretty big plans” for their futures. Buddelmeyer added that graduation “affects (the community) largely,” especially in a small town like Leesburg.
“It brings everybody out because everybody knows everybody,” she said.
Similarly, Lynchburg-Clay High School Principal Linda Hatten, said that “the spirit of graduation here is positive.”
At Lynchburg, the end of high school also means a senior trip. This year, Hatten said, the students flew to Washington D.C. Then, on the seniors’ last day, a senior versus staff volleyball game is held. Hatten added that there is also a junior/senior breakfast, where students can bring in photos for a slideshow.
Graduation is “a positive experience,” she said. “I think the kids are prepared for the world … and they’re excited about it” She described the camaraderie between students and staff, adding that “the kids are always special.”
Each class, she said, is memorable and unique in its own way. “You laughed with them, you cried with them … Our business is kids.”
Hatten said, “Every year is a special year,” describing how the students evolve over their four years in high school.
Local graduation dates are: McClain and Whiteoak, both on Friday, May 20; Hillsboro and Lynchburg-Clay, both on Sunday, May 22; and Fairfield on Sunday, May 29.
Sarah Allen is a freelance writer and former reporter for The Times-Gazette. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.