South sees more students graduating early

Iris Kreilkamp, Editor

The graduating class of 2020 had a rough time — proms were cancelled all over the country, graduation was online, and everything that made senior year senior year was suddenly gone for a lot of students. This year, things still aren’t seeming all that different for a lot of teens. 

For this reason, South has seen an uptick in the amount of students choosing to graduate early. 

Graduating early is something that generally around 50 students in a class choose to do during a normal year. With South’s trimester system, it’s not too hard to fit in the required senior classes, and it frees up time before college or whatever a student may be planning for the future. 

This year, South saw around 80 students graduate early. 

Senior Torie Stebbins graduated in November, but had been planning to do this since last year. “I didn’t know Covid was going to happen, and I’m glad that I did,” said Stebbins. 

Stebbins plans to spend her time working and saving up. “I’d really like to go into college without having to work my first year.” Stebbins plans to add another job onto her current job, where she works in Nashville. 

“I definitely think this was a good decision for me. First tri, when we went online, I was not having the best time. I’m really thankful I made this choice last year,” said Stebbins. Stebbins noted that many of her friends have since decided to graduate early, and said, “There’s just nothing to senior year this year — prom is probably not happening, you know, I think a lot of them just feel like it’s not worth it.”

Senior Neylan Visnius graduated in November, and was planning a gap year anyways, but wasn’t originally going to graduate early. “I decided to do it because of Covid — I made the decision in July. I had considered doing this last year, but I was having a fun time hanging out with, you know, real people, so I didn’t really intend to graduate early.” Visnius said that, given a normal year, she probably would have preferred to graduate along with the rest of her senior class. “I think this is the best option, for me, out of the ones available, but I do think that if I had a choice I would choose to have a normal senior year, and see my friends and go to class.”

Like Stebbins, Visnuis felt that, as special as senior year can be, her time at South wasn’t going to be as useful as it could be. “I didn’t want to spend the whole year sitting at my desk, e-learning. I know the teachers are putting in a lot of effort, but it just didn’t seem like the most efficient way for me to learn new things,” Visnius said. “I think there’s a difference between school learning and experiential learning — I think this year is going to be more based on learning in the real world for me.”

She’s been keeping busy without school, however — volunteering at the community kitchen and interning at the animal shelter. 

“They’ve basically become my full-time job! We’ll see what happens in the spring though,” said Visnius. She hopes to work for the Northwest Youth Corps, a program for youths to learn about land maintenance and the outdoors, preparing trails and camping. 

“If I could give a message to future seniors, I would say that, if they’re not considering graduating early, they should definitely consider taking the time to find a really interesting program that might make them want to graduate early,” said Visnius. “I know a lot of people think, with graduating early, they’ll get a job and live here and it’ll basically just be the same. It’s definitely worth researching things you’re really interested in, and finding something that would really compel you.” For Visnius, that’s the possibility of spending a year in the Northwest making trails with other teens. 

Senior year is all about finding your independence, and for these seniors, that means taking their future into their own hands — and then taking it outside the walls of BHSS.