HHS seniors take year in stride

Students thank family, teacher, coaches for support

by Emily Chesnic

Seniors are putting this year in the books. while noting life lessons learned through unfamiliar education and extracurricular experiences amid a pandemic.

The school year has been different, with some circumstances of the COVID-19 situation downright difficult at times. But Hudson High School seniors agree this year’s obstacles taught them to adapt and to persevere and prepared them for the future. 

“Overall, the pandemic has been extremely challenging and saddening, but all of the people in my life have shown me we can overcome those challenges and find good,” said senior Sami Dragar. 

Missing out on things, including sporting events, performances, class trips and homecoming has been the most disheartening for the class of 2021. 

“It was sad to not see all the students, my friends and family and the community at the games because that’s what really makes Friday nights so fun,” said HHS football player and senior Jacob Paltani. 

Hudson senior Laurel Seberg said she missed the pep rallies and dances. 

Dragar did not like seeing her family disappointed when they could not see her music concerts and plays in person. 

Rather than focus on what she could not do, however, senior Mackenzie DeWitt said she diverted her attention to what she still could do, swim. 

“I was grateful to still have a season and be able to compete the amount that I did. It was sad to miss out on the many senior swim activities, but I felt the parents and coaches gave us many ways within the constrictions of COVID to celebrate the season,” DeWitt said.

In addition to altered extracurricular activities, students dealt with ever-changing learning schedules. Most students started the year on the hybrid plan, going to school in-person some days while learning at home on others. Students had to switch to all-remote learning when COVID-19 cases climbed and later readjust to being back in the classroom all over again. 

While she is thankful to be in school daily now, Seberg, a rugby player, said she did appreciate the days she could learn at home, staying “comfy in pajamas.”

“I prefer following a more regimented daily schedule,” said senior and swimmer Benjamin Martinez. “When I came back, I got into my groove.”

DeWitt and Dragar said the teachers were helpful through all the transitions.

“This year has been filled with just about as many twists and turns as a person can handle, and I think that the Hudson High School staff did everything in their power to make this year as normal as possible,” said Dragar.

Paltani agreed, stating, “It could have been easy for me to go through the year and skip a lot of assignments and miss class, but all my teachers really cared about me. I appreciate that they held me and everyone accountable for our responsibilities, which I know helped prepare me for college.”

While their education was impacted by the pandemic, the seniors still feel prepared for post-secondary school.

Martinez plans to attend the Ohio State University or John Carroll University in the fall. Paltani is going to study business at Ohio State and take advantage of new opportunities. DeWitt also will be heading to Ohio State. She will study American Sign Language and education and join the Buckeye swim and dive team.

Seberg’s goal is to become a veterinarian. She will attend the University of Georgia later this year. In the fall, Dragar will begin studying business at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. She hopes to secure a career within the nonprofit sector or the theatre district.

Before heading off to college, the seniors plan to enjoy what is next, including in-person prom and graduation celebrations. 

“We, thankfully, are having a prom and graduation this year. Of course, we will have to wear masks to both events, but at least we are having them, said Seberg. 

Martinez added, “The annual New York City trip [for students in the New Dimensions program] would have already occurred, but it is looking like there may be a possibility we will go towards the end of the year now, which would be a great way to cap off this odd school year.”

Looking back on this “odd” school year caused the seniors to realize they have a lot to be thankful for still. 

DeWitt said the pandemic caused her to appreciate each moment. She learned to make the most of every opportunity. 

“I have been able to spend a lot more time with my family,” Martinez said. “After being stuck in the same house with the same four people for the past year, I can understand them more and have bonded with them more than I ever had, and that is something I am certainly grateful for.”

“My family was definitely my support system throughout this pandemic. Without them, I am positive my senior year would not have been as great of an experience as it has been for me,” said Dragar.

Throughout all that happened, Martinez said he discovered he is resilient, which he did not realize prior to COVID-19.

“I think we all have resilience. This crisis definitely has united our senior class,” he said. “Very rarely has there ever been something so prevalent in the world that affects every single one of us.” ∞

Rugby player laurel Seberg is grateful prom and graduation are going ahead. Photo submitted
Hudson quarterback Jacob Paltani says Friday night football this year lacked the excitement of packed stands. Photo submitted
Sami Dragar, who works part time at Fair Trade on Main, was disheartened with her family not being able to see her preform in person during her senior year.