School buildings may be closed, but school spirit continues to bring educators and students together, especially high school seniors. To celebrate the Class of 2020, educators and students are getting creative, keeping their communities connected and celebrating high school milestones that deserve our attention. At high schools across the RISE Network, some students have turned to social media to share and celebrate seniors’ high school accomplishments and postsecondary plans. Seniors at Platt High School and Maloney High School in Meriden recently shared what motivated them to organize this social media movement.
Maloney High School seniors Chukwuebuka Akubilo and Ally Wodarski and Platt High School seniors Aiden Annino and Sydney Bernier recently created Instagram pages for their classmates to share what they will be doing after high school. Both pages, @platths2020 and @maloneyseniors2020, operate similarly. Seniors share their postsecondary plans (e.g., joining the military, entering the workforce, enrolling in college), the major they’re interested in, their name and a photo. According to Annino, who is vice president of Platt’s DECA Club and plans to study Marketing at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, the seniors are loving it.
“We’ve seen great success from the posts,” the Platt senior said. “Almost every student ends up reposting their shoutout on their own personal Instagram accounts for their family and friends to recognize their wonderful accomplishments. Our faculty members have also done a wonderful job promoting this very positive student-run activity.”
Wodarski was excited to see a similar response to the initiative at Maloney. “(The seniors) have all not only been allowing themselves to receive a little recognition, but have also taken the time to comment on some of the other posts about fellow classmates with uplifting and congratulatory messages which is always great to see, especially during times like these when we are all seeking a little extra positive encouragement,” Wodarski said.
Wodarski shared that her classmate Akubilo originally came up with the idea for the Instagram celebrations and asked for her assistance. They were excited to have a more hopeful distraction from the uncertainty caused by COVID-19. Wodarski, who is the Spartans’ Class of 2020 president and in the process of committing to the University of New Haven, said she is finding ways to stay optimistic.
“As a senior, it can be hard to stay positive, but Maloney’s staff has been going out of their way to spread the positivity they know we are so desperately seeking,” Wodarski said. “I have been taking a more optimistic approach with our whole situation. Especially being president of the 2020 class, it is nice to have a say in the way our senior events could possibly go from here, which is always a great reassurance of hope.”
Both schools’ social media endeavors have provided hope during a challenging time and re-established a sense of community, according to Bernier, who plans to attend Quinnipiac University to major in political science with a focus in human rights.
“The importance of community is something that has always been valued at Platt High School,” Bernier said. “Coming together to provide comfort and support to one another has become second nature. This situation has especially brought the Class of 2020 together as we are all working toward the same goal of making our senior year as memorable as possible.”
Akubilo, who is going to Wesleyan University to double major in math and chemistry, said this project has highlighted the achievements and strengths of both Meriden schools. He acknowledged a playful rivalry between the schools, but said the mutual respect between schools runs deep.
“I like the Platt kids,” Akubilo said. “We share busses to our math meets, so there’s a little rivalry going on in the bus (with mostly Maloney fueling it), but overall it’s a more fun experience than anything.”