Whether it’s community service or practicing to dunk a basketball, this group of Collierville High School seniors is doing their best to make the most of their newfound free time. On this episode of the Main and Mulberry Podcast, listen to three Collierville High School seniors’ experience in the midst of school closures and Safer at Home.
See the transcript below.
Nick Cotros: Hi everyone. My name is Nick Cotros and I’m joined by three Collierville High School seniors, Caroline Henson, Cade Williams and Trent Gunner. Thank you all so very much for joining me today. Caroline, we’ll start by talking about the day that school was canceled. What happened and how did you feel then?
Caroline Henson: When I first found out that school was canceled, I thought it was just going to be like a long spring break and I thought we would be going back after a few weeks. But on the other day I found out the school was canceled for the rest the year, and I expected that to happen, but I was still really sad. There are some people that I always see at school and I wanted to say goodbye to them. I’m a TA in a special needs class. I’ve gotten really close to those students and teachers this year, so I really wish I had the opportunity to go back and see them before I leave.
NC: Right. I got ya. Yeah. My mom’s a school teacher and she said that they all thought that it was just going to be a sort of a longer spring break too, and then it of course ended up becoming something much bigger than that. Cade, did you or anyone think that you wouldn’t be going back to school this year? Anyone that you know and when did it sort of dawn on you and your class that y’all wouldn’t be able to complete your senior year?
Cade Williams: Well, yeah, earlier that week I had a soccer game and it was against Arlington and I think they had already closed for the year or for the extended time. So it was like that was a point where I was like, Oh, there’s potential, there’s going to be no more school, no more soccer season, no more seeing the people you’ve seen every day for four years in the hall, so it was just that time when it was like, okay, Oh, this could be happening. I don’t know what to do. You know?
NC: Yeah. I think sort of everyone felt that it’s like there was just so much uncertainty for those first couple of weeks and there still is of course, but it was just, no one sort of knew what was going to happen. Trent, how did everyone around you in your circle feel and what was sort of the overall vibe at school from your perspective and especially among seniors?
Trent Gunner: Kind of like Caroline had said, I think me and my group thought it was going to be a long spring break and we’d still be able to have fun together and it was just going to be nice. They come back an extra week later at first and then we just realized that we couldn’t even hang out as they got more serious because we’re forced to stay kind of with our own family. And so it was just got more and more disappointing as like we realized we couldn’t see each other during this time off. So then we were bored and ready to come back to school and then school just was completely canceled. So that was just really surprising to us.
NC: Yeah, it’s sort of, it’s difficult because at first you’re thinking it might be sort of fun to be home and to have your friends and have some time off and relax before finishing up the school year. But I guess that didn’t happen. So like Trent mentioned, Cade, are you staying connected to your friends and classmates through this?
CW: The ones that play video games with me. Honestly, those are the ones that keep up with the most. Cause obviously we’re not supposed to be with soccer going out and getting together a game or whatever. So I’m just chilling at home on Xbox with my friends.
NC: Trent, is that sort of your experience too?
TG: Yeah, I’ve been playing quite a few video games. I been to some drive-by birthday parties just to say hi to some people turning 18 and celebrate them. But I haven’t really seen anyone. So it’s been mostly through like Snapchat and video games.
NC: Yeah. Caroline, how has this all affected your relationships with your friends and classmates and even teachers?
CH: Well we have been staying connected through like social media and we’ve been FaceTiming. My friends have also sent me letters and pictures from our year just to try to stay connected. And yesterday we did actually do a drive-by birthday party for one of my friends and it was really nice to see everyone, but we were just like realizing that we weren’t going to be able to see each other after that for a really long time. So I think it’s kind of made everyone feel that and we’re just really wanting to see each other again.
NC: Yeah. I feel like everyone’s sort of thinking and feeling that too. I’ve read that a lot of people are trying to stay productive with their time despite all that’s happening around us. Are you trying to do that, Caroline?
CH: Yes, I’m a competitive dancer and work. We’ve been having virtual practices four days a week and that’s really helped me stay productive cause it forces me to make a schedule and get my schoolwork done. And I’ve also been staying active through the practices. I’ve also done some volunteering at the Neighborhood Christian Center packing up and handing out food to those who can’t afford it. And I’m really thankful for that opportunity because it also has made me feel productive in times where there’s not really much to do.
NC: Yeah, that’s a great way of spending time right now is helping others. Cade, what else are you doing with your time?
CW: So I have two dual classes for high school that keep me pretty busy. I usually try and do the work for those two classes for the entire week on Monday and Tuesday, and that just leaves just kind of chilling out. If my parents give me a chore to do, I’ll do that for the rest of the week, but other than that, I’m just chilling at home and doing that schoolwork.
NC: Trent, what are you doing?
TG: Yeah, I’ve been trying to keep up with my schoolwork too because I still have to take AP exams and all my classes and I’m actually in all AP classes at school right now and then at home I’ve been working on like a vertical jump program because I want to go to college and be able to dunk. I’ve actually been working on that. Trying to stay physically fit and productive.
NC: That’s pretty cool. Yeah, I know a lot of companies and brands are offering online lessons and classes for just everyone right now to take advantage of because they know that everyone’s trying to stay semi productive and continue learning while they’re just kind of at home. Could you speak to more of your workload at school right now? What is being asked of you and how is that going and trying to balance some sort of education with all of this? Trent?
TG: Yeah, all of my teachers are publishing weekly agendas where they have assignments each day to complete. But since the school system rendered it optional for like AP classes, I’m doing some of their assignments, but I’m also just focusing on like self preparation for the exams because like the assignments don’t always relate to like some of the material that I need to focus on for the exam. And that’s about all that I have left to close out the year. So I’ve been working on that.
NC: Okay. Cool. Trent, how do you think of it will be recorded and remembered?
TG: I’m not exactly sure what people will talk about, but I know that it’s going to have an extended effect probably on like daily rituals and the economy because as my dad was talking about, he sometimes can make it into the office because no one else comes. But like bigger companies, they’re gonna have to figure out if like working from home is going to become more of like a standard for some people because I know some people like to see people, but I bet it’s nice for people with younger children that can just complete all their work at home right now and they might, that might become part of like their daily life.
NC: Right. Caroline, there have got to be some positives that can come from this. What good do hope, uh, will we see at the end of all this?
CH: I think that everyone has really use this time to get closer to their family. I know my family’s not glad, but we’re trying to see the bright side of this. Just me leaving for college in a few months. This is like a good time for us to spend quality family time together before I leave. Also, I just think that this has made people realize we really take for granted our normal lives and like how much we love our routine lives with a schedule and stuff to do like school. I was just ready to be done before spring break. I was like, I don’t want to come back here and now that it’s been taken away, I think I’ve really, it made me realize that I didn’t hate high school at all. And I am just, I think that’s a big positive that will come from this is everyone realizes that we don’t need to take our normalized for granted.
NC: That’s a really good takeaway I think. Yeah. It’s interesting that everyone sort of had senior-itis maybe, like it’s talked about always and now when it kind of hits you that you won’t have it anymore or you kind of regret feeling that way. Maybe. Caroline, how have colleges communicated with you about next year? You mentioned that you’re going to college. What is that process looking like at this point?
CH: I’m just committed to Mississippi State and they have contacted me a few times. They told us our orientation is going to be all online. So that was kind of sad to hear because I was looking forward to going in the summer and seeing what it was going to be like. And they’ve also contacted people to just like hope for the best that we will be going back in August. I’m planning on trying out for their dance team and they contacted us to tell us that tryouts were moved online as well. So that’s really the most I’ve heard from colleges but it’s still has been a lot to handle.
NC: Trent, is that your experience too with colleges?
TG: Yes sir. I am going to attend Texas A&M University and studying the business honors program and I’ve received some phone calls from like past students and from some of the admissions counselors there that are been talking about the program because there was a few days where we were going to go down and get to like interact with the counselors that those days were canceled this summer already. And they’ve set up a few Zoom info sessions and like live boards. But other than that, I know we’re also going to have virtual student conferences. So I’m kind of disappointed that I won’t get to go down there early and meet new people going in and hopefully the year even starts on time.
NC: Right? Yeah. And college is such a social thing. It’s such a social environment that it’s going to be very difficult to manage college, university environment. With all this going on, Cade, how has this affected your college experience so far?
CW: So I’m going to go to the University of Memphis and luckily for me, my mom works there. So basically all the information she has I get, but the stuff I’ve received in my emails and stuff is that obviously the orientation is going to be online and that they will set up like Zoom calls with the advisors to help you pick your classes ahead of time just over the phone, just so you know what you’re doing before you go in.
NC: Trent, I’d like to ask you the same question that I asked Caroline about the positives that could come from this. What good do you hope will we see at the end of this?
TG: Well I think people have really kind of banded together during this time and like people are looking out for each other. Like she said she’s been volunteering. I know my mom helped a lot making masks. I had to help cut a little bit of cloth and I just think that hopefully everyone comes out of this and like there they just appreciate more what we have and they are just more looking out for the good of society as a whole.
NC: Cade, do you feel the same way?
CW: I think one of the positives that we will have as a class a that’s different from other classes that have graduated high school was that since we’ve had this where we can’t, we’re not going to be able to say the final goodbyes or like classmates that we’ve been with for four years. We are probably stay more connected to one another as time goes on.
NC: Yeah, I guess so. Cause it’s like you never really said goodbye. Right. That’s interesting. That’s pretty cool. Well, Caroline, Kade, Trent, thank you so much for your time. I know everyone is wishing you all only the very best in Collierville and around town and all over the country. Your senior class is a very well respected right now with what y’all are having to put up with and deal with. So we all really appreciate you. Thank you so much.
CW, CH, TG: Thank you!