By Megan Dunnigan, EPS Class of 2021

In the last ten months, a lot of adults have told me “the best is yet to come” or “this is certainly a senior year you’ll never forget.” All of these things are true, things will work out in the future, but it doesn’t always acknowledge that often, right now in this moment, it’s really, really hard.

I’ve been picturing senior year since I was eight years old and watched High School Musical for the first time. In my imagination, I picked out a prom dress, studied with friends, and cheered on the basketball team. In the understatement of the century, the reality of my senior year—online school, ten months of self-isolation, and the seventh straight day of wearing pajamas—provides a stark contrast.

In many ways, resilience takes form in innovation and creativity. Once we relinquish the idea that we control everything, we can adapt to changing circumstances and build new traditions. I witnessed this as one of the chairs of Student Leadership Council when I joined other students to make snowflakes, watch holiday movies, and build gingerbread houses in place of our usual Winter Wars Spirit Week. I also saw creativity when I turned eighteen in January and, instead of being sad that we couldn’t throw a party, my friends came by, one by one, to hang out in the freezing cold on my porch and celebrate my birthday. In classes, teachers and students found creative ways to use the online format as a tool, rather than a hindrance. This included hosting a guest speaker from across the country in Mr. Fierce’s International Relations class and getting away from our screens and going outside to write in our journals each day in Ms. Sayles’ Literature in the Natural Environment class.

It’s easiest to recognize resilience in big ways like these, but the true experience of resilience often remains a Sisyphean task. Sometimes it’s just getting out of bed for that 8:30 AM Physics class, or turning on your camera and being the first to talk in the breakout room. Sometimes it’s pushing to write your final college supplement, annotating the last chapter of the lit reading, or finally filling out the advisory reflection that Ms. McLane keeps reminding you to submit.

The smallest, least celebrated tasks can be the hardest to do. But small choices made again and again contribute most to big achievement. Balancing college applications, senior year courses online, and attending to our well-being in quarantine, all during a global pandemic, amounts to nothing
short of a big achievement.