The Lehigh Valley’s Class of 2021 looks back at their senior year, interrupted by COVID-19

Written by on June 14, 2021

The Lehigh Valley’s Class of 2021 looks back at their senior year, interrupted by COVID-19

By Chloe Nouvelle

June 14, 2021

Photo by Emily Ranquist from Pexels

The Lehigh Valley’s high school graduation season is in full swing. And the class of 2021 is bidding goodbye to their masks and a challenging year. 

Listen to the story.

Three students who achieved high honors despite their COVID-interuppted senior year talk about the rocky road that was the 2020-21 school year.

Liberty High School’s Valedictorian, Barbara Perevalov, walks across the stage on graduation day knowing it’s a high achievement for any student in any year, let alone this one. 

“I would say it certainly was a bit more difficult not getting to be in class and interact with teachers and students and be in the usual engaged learning environment. That was certainly hard to get used to throughout the year,” Perevalov says.

Perevalov wasn’t alone in needing an adjustment period to the new hybrid way of life. 

Freedom High School’s Valedictorian, Belinda Yeung, did too. 

“I think it was a bit hard for me to stay on course since this year was like no other. But I think my teachers made the best of what was given,” Yeung says. 

As with any year, there were highs and lows even for valedictorians. For Perevalov, her high was getting to run track this season after having it canceled last year. Her lows centered around what she didn’t get to do.

“Just getting used to something that was so different for a senior year and losing out on some senior activities that people look forward to throughout their high school years,” Perevalov says.

Yeung’s 2021 low was pretty similar to Perevalov’s

“I think a low this year was definitely the difficulty in not seeing everyone in school. This year, I would usually see and interact with the same people in almost all of my classes. So, I didn’t really have the opportunity to talk to people I didn’t know or just other of my friends too. But I think a high this year was getting more free time. So I got a chance to participate in more of my personal hobbies, such as photography and hiking,” Yeung says. 

Perevalov and Yeung are both off to college in the fall. Perevalov is staying on the east coast. She’s headed to Lehigh University. And Yeung is going west to Stanford University.

But it wasn’t just Bethlehem’s seniors who had to contend with the pandemic’s curve balls.

Prathysha Kothare was the student speaker for Parkland’s Class of 2021. 

Kothare says the pandemic didn’t just change the way her senior year shook out. It also changed her future plans for college at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The pandemic has really exposed a lot of the inequality, social inequalities, international inequalities, with regards to resource access. And something that I would like to do, because of my increased awareness through the pandemic, is to be able to do some humanitarian work in college. So they have summer opportunities to either teach or work on sustainable development projects abroad,” Kothare says.

Kothare might be MIT’s now but she shared some advice for Parkland’s new crop, its incoming freshman class.

“It may be a platitude but I would say that my number one advice is always just to pursue things that you’re really passionate about. And as a freshman, I was of the mentality of ‘Oh, I had this and this opportunity, I should do everything, right?’ Because doing everything would be the formula to success. And over the years, I realized that some things just really didn’t interest me and I wasn’t able to fully devote myself to the things that I really did love,” Kothare says. 

Kothare also encourages the next freshman class to focus on making connections and friends. She says during the pandemic being able to fall back on the people you know and are close to was something everybody needed. 

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