Seniors celebrate at first on-campus event of the school year

Pupukahi+dancers+perform+for+the+Aloha+Program+as+senior+watch+socially+distanced+on+mats.+

Photo contributed by Scot Allen, Associate Director of Communications.

Pupukahi dancers perform for the Aloha Program as senior watch socially distanced on mats.

Erin Goya and Amanda Yip

As she stepped onto campus for the first time in a year, her nerves kicked in. She felt timid walking towards the Quad, a place that had been familiar to her since she started Mid-Pacific in 9th grade. But now, it felt strange to be back.

Senior Izabel Rosario has been attending school virtually since last March, and the Spirit of Seniors (SOS) night on Feb. 19 marked the first time she came back.

“As I rolled into campus a lot of the memories about school came rushing in, and it was kind of sad,” said Rosario. Mid-Pacific gave permission to allow virtual learners to attend this first on-campus event for seniors this school year. Of the 139 seniors who attended, 42 of them are virtual learners.

Even through the passing showers, the energy and positivity carried on the whole night. Each performance was followed by a standing ovation. Students sat socially distanced on blankets, enthralled by the performances of the Aloha program. The Aloha program performance typically marks the beginning of the school year but was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Erisan Awaya, who also performed the song “Wondering” by Olivia Rodrigo, during the Aloha program, usually attends classes online but returned to campus for the SOS event.

“You cannot compare anything online to seeing people face to face. It was so interesting to see how some have changed over the course of the year, and have conversations with friends I haven’t seen since March,” she said.

Seniors sit on stairs in front of Chew Tech Plaza with their senior sweatshirt watching the Aloha Progam. Spirit of Seniors night marked the first time many students came back to campus this year. (Photo contributed by Mason Mosca. )

Awaya, an MPSA certificate student, usually performs many times throughout the school year in school musicals and outside events. But much of that was put on hold this year due to COVID-19.

“Performing for the first time in over a year was crazy and incredibly scary, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity and I’m glad I participated,” said Awaya.

Awaya said she missed the unity and the gratifying feeling about being in an environment where the energy is high and fresh, and how it felt great to bond with classmates once again.

Due to COVID-19, many of the traditional senior events such as winter ball and all school picnic have been cancelled. This event gave students time to catch up and talk outside of school. However, many of the seniors seem to be beginning to get ready for the next chapter of their lives.

“I think many of us had finally come to terms with the fact that our senior year was not going to be the year we all imagined, and we all got used to the repetitive lull that became this school year,” said Awaya.

“You cannot compare anything online to seeing people face to face. It was so interesting to see how some have changed over the course of the year, and have conversations with friends I haven’t seen since March.”

— Erisan Awaya

Away said she accepted what has happened and is starting to focus on her well-being and adapting to different environments as she begins her next chapter in the fall.

Even though the seniors are beginning to let go of what is left of their senior year, they were still thankful for the event. The class of 2021 is the first class whose year is completely influenced by a global pandemic.

“The event itself was great, but being able to just eat and sit with friends while talking about the story again was the best part,” said senior Noah Ogata.

Ogata and Rosario said this event gave them the opportunity to reconnect with their classmates and they realized how much they took the small social interactions for granted.

As of right now, Senior Camp is planned for April where the seniors will be bussed to camp Erdman and back everyday. The class council is also working on a plan for graduation.

“The event was fantastic. Again, seeing people come together to make something happen is incredible, and I’m grateful we had this opportunity,” said Awaya.