Class of 2022 says their last goodbyes


Hanna Boughanem

The Senior Board sits in front of the rock entrance at McLean High School. It features the names of each member of McLean’s graduating class.

Today marks the last official day of school for seniors not participating in the Highlander Internship Program (HIP). The hot, humid day was a bittersweet one for the Class of 2022. 

“I’m excited. I’m ready to get out of here,” senior Ava Soong said. “But it’s definitely sad to say goodbye to my teachers and think that this might be the last time I see a lot of people and familiar faces that I’ve just seen randomly [around school] over the past four years.”

For many seniors, the end of the year marked the beginning of a whole new chapter in life—one far removed from the familiarity of McLean.

“I’m definitely a little bit sad to leave all this behind because the past 12 years of my life have been with all of these people,” senior Doris Zhang said. “Now I’m moving on to the next phase in my life, where I’m going to be meeting a lot of new people.”

This year’s graduating class was met with a plethora of unique challenges throughout their time at McLean. From an interrupted sophomore year to a fully virtual junior year, the Class of 2022 has had a significantly unusual high school experience.

“COVID and [the pandemic] made it really hard to adjust and make it through school. I definitely had a really tough time with the pandemic, and I’m sure a lot of other people did, too,” Soong said. “It just sucks that that made such a huge impact in our life and I’m sad that it happened, but in the end, it’s just a learning experience.”

Perhaps most notably, seniors struggled to return to their normal working habits, especially after becoming so accustomed to virtual learning.

“It affected people’s motivation and work ethic,” physics teacher Jeffrey Brocketti said. “People forgot what it took to actually do well, and some people recovered quickly, while some people are still in the process of recovering from that. That was [one] of the challenges from this year, but everybody pulled through for the most part.”

The already daunting transition was made even more difficult by looming college application deadlines. 

“I will say that it’s fun being a senior, but [this year] was a lot harder than I expected it to be, especially with college applications and just stress overall,” Soong said. 

Though the pandemic tarnished seniors’ hopes for a normal four years, most were still able to enjoy a traditional last year at McLean, complete with in-person learning, sports events and dances.

“I’m really glad that we were able to come back to school after COVID and enjoy in-person learning,” Zhang said. It was definitely hard to come back after a year of virtual learning, but overall it was a good experience and I think I learned a lot.” 

She is not alone. Students and teachers alike are excited to see what will become of the Class of 2022, especially for those planning to continue their education. 

“The next four years of college are probably going to be the best time of your life, so don’t get too bogged down in the academic side of it,” Brocketti said. “Remember to have fun and take in the entire experience; college will be whatever you make of it.”

Though the past four years have been quite the rollercoaster for current seniors, most are content with their time at McLean and look forward to making their mark on the world.  

“[High school] was not exactly what I expected—it’s very different from the experience you see in the movies. I feel like it was really hyped up and we thought it was going to be crazy, but it really wasn’t,” Zhang said. “Still, I think it was a good experience.”