Westminster requires all seniors to repeat final year in the Upper School


The 2020-2021 school year has undeniably been fraught with a number of challenges and changes. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Westminster began to develop and implement health and safety protocols, such as weekly testing and directional signage around campus. As a result, however, campus life has been significantly reduced to activities and events that adhere to these guidelines.

Of the 800 students in the Upper School, no class has mourned for these lost experiences more than the class of 2021. Typically, seniors fully immerse themselves in student life, reaping the benefits of off-campus lunch, Friday football games, and school dances. In order to make up for these events, Westminster has installed a new requirement for the current seniors to repeat their final year in the Upper School.

“Ultimately, Westminster campus life is driven by tradition,” said Upper School administrator Willy Wildcat. “Since Westminster couldn’t host many events and activities this school year, it just did not seem fair to allow the seniors to graduate this May. Having fun as a senior is just as much a requirement as completing classes and credits.”

Despite the restrictions of COVID-19 protocols, Westminster has reimagined many events that are central to campus life. To combat the transmission of the virus, Westminster elected to move many events outside. Not only do outdoor events allow for more distance between attending parties, but the setting also facilitates better air flow.

“One of our most successful events this year was the senior spaghetti supper at the beginning of the fall semester,” said Wildcat. “The supper took place in the Kent Field parking lot, and each attendee received a prepackaged meal. However, there were other parts of campus life that we could not salvage. This includes JanTerm and the homecoming dance.”

When Westminster first began to discuss this new requirement for seniors, the administration faced numerous logistical barriers in regard to class capacity and college admissions.

“An obvious challenge in requiring seniors to repeat the school year is that the graduating class of 2022 will now have 400 students instead of 200,” said Wildcat. “To account for this, we will be adding more students to class sections, utilizing all spaces on campus, and dividing campus events up by grade level. Additionally, current seniors will have to reapply to the colleges on their lists next school year.”

While the college counseling team did lobby for seniors’ college decisions to carry over to next year, ultimately admissions officers decided to give these spots to other students. They also announced that all report card grades from the 2020-2021 school year will not be considered next year for the repeating seniors. 

“We want to make the hybridization of the Westminster classes of 2021 and 2022 as seamless as possible,” said an admissions officer at Wildcat University. “In order to do that, we simply can’t consider each student’s grades from the same classes but different school years. Ultimately, we have the students’ best interests in mind, even if it means scrapping hours of work and studying. We all have to make sacrifices.”

After the Westminster administration publicized this announcement and college admissions offices responded accordingly, current seniors reacted in disparate ways. Some students met this opportunity with excitement and gratitude.

“Personally, I am really glad that I will be able to have a normal senior year,” said senior Alex Academic. “I don’t want to graduate from high school knowing that COVID-19 basically robbed me of my senior year. I want to enjoy my last year at Westminster and be able to look back on these memories fondly.”

Other students expressed interest in expanding their intellectual pursuits in preparation for college level academics. Retaking the same course load offers a unique opportunity for each student to master class material and excel in college admissions pools.

“I think that an additional year of high school will be really helpful in preparing us all for college,” said senior Sally Studious. “Even though we might be learning some of the same material, I am planning on reusing all of my notes and assignments. Then, I will have much higher grades on my college applications. Maybe I will even get into schools that rejected me this year!”

On the other hand, some students were distraught at the prospect of repeating senior year. After a year of following social-distancing protocols and attending virtual events, many seniors are ready to spread their wings and begin a new chapter in their lives.

“I had plans to start my first semester at Wildcat University next fall, and I was really excited to go,” said senior Gary Green. “I don’t want to reapply to colleges, and I am honestly ready to take different classes. What was the point of this school year if nothing counts? Do all of those hours that I spent sitting in class, doing homework, and studying for daily AP Calculus quizzes mean nothing now?”

Nonetheless, Westminster has full intentions to carry out this plan for the upcoming school year, ensuring that campus life will be fully restored in time for August. As for the altered class of 2022, the future is bright and brimming with students.