Voices of the Class of 2020

by Megan Johnson ’20

Megan Johnson ’20

Megan Johnson ’20

“Our senior year, like our Senior Class, was unconventional and unique … Our class was made up of strong and fierce leaders who were not afraid to break boundaries. We had real change-makers, creative innovators, thoughtful artists, and courageous athletes. We truly had it all.”

When I was a freshman in high school I always looked up to the seniors. I thought that one day I would be in their shoes going to prom, saying goodbye to underclassmen at the Closing Ceremony, celebrating graduation, and getting ready to go to college. I believed that 2020 was the best graduating year. Something about having all even numbers and it being the start of a new decade was very satisfying to me. My parents told me when I was growing up that “2020 is such a cool year to graduate.” Now that a global pandemic has struck, some would say it is the worst year to graduate. We didn’t get a prom, we didn’t get a Senior Day, and what I think we missed the most was a sense of closure.

Although this is a crazy time to be a graduate, I would not go as far as to say that 2020 is the worst year to graduate. The way I like to see it is that we are historic. Our senior year, like our Senior Class, was unconventional and unique. It represented us well. Our class was made up of strong and fierce leaders who were not afraid to break boundaries. We had real change-makers, creative innovators, thoughtful artists, and courageous athletes. We truly had it all. Our Senior Class will leave a lasting impact on Flint Hill just like this pandemic will have a lasting impact on the world around us. As a senior, at the end of the year, I wanted to talk to five of my classmates to see what their experience in quarantine was like and how they were feeling. I was not surprised to see our senior Huskies taking this experience with stride and making the most of this unusual time.

Molly Paulsen

Molly came to Flint Hill in seventh grade. She played Varsity Field Hockey for all four years of high school, was on the swim team for three years, and was a student ambassador. She was a tremendous leader in school and on the field and so many underclassmen looked up to her for her kindness and willingness to help others. Molly will be playing field hockey at Franklin & Marshall College in the fall.

What makes Flint Hill special is our strong community. As our high school experience was coming to close many seniors were excited to celebrate all of our hard work together with our friends and classmates. Molly said,

“The hardest part about being in quarantine was not being able to see my friends and celebrate our large accomplishment together.”

A group of amazing senior leaders, including Molly, worked closely with Flint Hill’s administration to have the American sexual assault activist, Katie Koestner, come and speak at Flint Hill. She was scheduled to come to Flint Hill in April; however, her visit was postponed due to the current crisis. She will come and speak at Flint Hill next year, but we seniors will be missing out on that opportunity we worked hard to create. Molly says that she hopes that Flint Hill does not forget about the seniors that paved the way for Ms. Koestner’s visit.

Although she was sad to miss out on the second semester of our senior year, Molly shared one good thing that happened due to the pandemic was the opportunity to spend time with her two sisters, who are both in college. In fact, Molly said that she and her sisters were only going to have two days to spend together throughout the entire summer. Instead, she has been able to spend several months with her whole family. Although she is thankful for the extra time with her loved ones, she is concerned that it will make the transition to college a little tougher.

One thing that Molly has learned from being in quarantine is the importance of balance. Molly said that before this crisis she would wish for a day where she could do nothing but relax. Now, that is all she has to do. Molly noted,

“I think it will be important to find balance in my life when this all goes back to normal”

and to slow down every once in a while when she’s feeling overwhelmed.

Ben Ephraim

Ben became a Husky at the start of his freshman year of high school. He was the captain of the Varsity Boys’ Climbing team and led them to win two state championships during his four years at Flint Hill. He is a talented filmmaker and artist who is both brilliant and creative. Ben used his amazing talents to create numerous videos for Flint Hill throughout his time at the School and will be attending the University of Southern California’s film school in the fall.

Ben has been using this time in quarantine to focus on picking up old and new hobbies that he never had time to do before. He has been skateboarding almost every day, learning how to play the guitar, and staying creative by working on film projects. Ben said, “having all of this extra time to put into these hobbies brings me so much joy and it almost feels like I’m 12 again, which is something very comforting at a time like this.” Ben also noted that it is extremely important for him to feels like he accomplished something each day and that having online classes at the end of the school year really helped him keep to a schedule. Ben shared “having deadlines helped me feel more normal” and prevented each day from blending into the next. Now that summer is here, Ben is focused on maintaining a schedule by creating daily tasks and projects.

Although he was said to see his senior year get cut short, Ben said,

“I am just thankful that I have had the privilege to stay home and stay safe.”

This experience has been extremely humbling and Ben believes that this is our chance to look at the world around us and think about issues like climate change. He hopes that we use this time to reflect on the state of our country and make drastic changes in the future for our planet and for the people who have been impacted the most by this pandemic. Ben says that this experience should remind people that no one person is invincible, especially not to the effects of this pandemic.

Cadence Hinnant

Cadence joined Flint Hill in kindergarten and has been an amazing teammate, friend and student. He was a part of the Climbing Team throughout high school and will be attending Belmont University in the fall. Although this pandemic has been devastating, Cadence has chosen to focus on some of the good things that may come from this time. For one, Cadence thinks that when things return to normal, many people will spend less time on their computers because they will crave more human interaction. Cadence also thinks that this time has given everyone, including himself, time to go outside and enjoy the nature around us. Cadence has started to go fishing a lot which has even become a great socially distanced activity to do with his friends.

As a member of the Flint Hill community for 13 years, Cadence was always excited to graduate and celebrate the end of his high school experience in the community he has known almost his entire life. Although our celebrations have looked a bit different during this pandemic, Cadence is still excited to find new ways to celebrate and create more memories with his friends in unique ways. Still, it is hard to find closure during this time. We never got to say goodbye to our teachers and our friends. We never got our last Town Meeting or Advisory. Because of this, Cadence still doesn’t quite feel like his time at Flint Hill is over, saying,

“It’s crazy to think I am never going back to Flint Hill as a student and that I’m never going to take an in-person class at Flint Hill ever again.”

Brigid Radtke

Brigid began attending Flint Hill at the start of her freshman year. She is a tri-varsity athlete having played girls’ soccer, winter track, and girls’ lacrosse during her time here. She was also a student ambassador for all four years in the Upper School. She is a thoughtful and caring leader both in and outside the classroom and will be attending Virginia Tech this fall. Brigid says that all of this extra time during this crisis has given her the opportunity to self reflect, learn and grow. While Brigid is enjoying the immense amount of time she gets to spend with her family and a new puppy, she really misses her extended family members and hopes to see them as soon as she can. One thing that has been bringing Brigid a lot of joy is having her younger cousin FaceTime her every day — sometimes up to three times! — to exercise to the “Frozen” soundtrack. It is the little moments like these that Brigid wants to remember from her time in quarantine.

At the beginning of the quarantine, it was extremely difficult to stay connected with classmates and other friends. We were all used to spending every day with each other and all of a sudden, we were stuck at home with no way to see one another. Brigid shared that she has been making an effort to reach out to more of her friends. She added that this experience has taught her about the importance of making an effort to stay connected with the people she loves. Brigid also noted that this experience has been good practice for finding ways to remain connected with her high school friends next year when they spread out across the United States to attend college.

Brigid is also setting a good example for others during the pandemic and is frustrated by others who haven’t taken it seriously. She stated, “It’s frustrating to see some of my friends not take this quarantine seriously by hanging out with [a lot of] other people and posting it on social media.” Brigid adds that it is really easy to ignore the seriousness of this pandemic if you are not personally affected by it. However, Brigid wants to remind her peers that their actions can potentially affect many other people, especially those who are at a higher risk. Although Brigid wanted to see her friends, go to prom, and have a graduation at the end of this year, she has remained adamant about the importance of staying inside and staying safe to prevent the spread of the virus, stating,

“Even if it’s not your fight, we all have to fight it.”

Jonathan Breen

Jonathan started attending Flint Hill as a freshman. He played on the Boys’ Varsity Soccer team and served as a peer counselor. Jonathan will attend Clemson University this fall. Jonathan shared that at first, he was sad to hear the news that we were not going back to school last spring. But he quickly came to terms with it as he reminded himself of all the amazing experiences he already had during his time in high school. Jonathan said that he felt very lucky to have had his final soccer season in the fall and he felt bad for the seniors who missed out on the last season of their spring sports. What Jonathan missed most about being in school were his classmates and teachers. Jonathan said,

“The teachers at Flint Hill definitely care about their students.”

Jonathan added that he received multiple emails from his teachers just to check in to see how he was doing during quarantine. Jonathan also noted that the transition to online school was very easy because of how amazing and flexible our teachers were.

Jonathan has spent most of his time in quarantine outside with his family. They have been playing volleyball and pickleball together to stay active and have fun. From spending so much time outside, he has also been able to talk and catch up with his neighbors — at a healthy distance of course! He used to be really close to his neighbors but hadn’t been able to stay connected recently because of his busy schedule. Now that things have slowed down, he has appreciated having time to connect with old friends. His biggest advice to the underclassmen is to not take the time you have in high school for granted.