Opinion: The forgotten early grads

Because COVID has extended the semester, early graduates face unprecedented—and unfair—complications


Becky Arendarczyk

The date for early graduates shifted from December to January 15th. With students still in remote learning, the last day for these grads feels different.

Becky Arendarczyk, Artistic Director

The pandemic has created several academic challenges. The challenges that hit December graduates at East and West Campues, however, went completely under the radar for many. These seniors, who worked hard to finish their graduation requirements a semester early, received a lack of information and recognition, all while going through several last minute changes alone, wrecking several graduates’ plans

This year December graduates aren’t really “December Grads,” but January Grads, with the extension of the semester from December 17 to January 15. These changes forced counselors to scramble to fix several problems, but not enough was communicated to graduates about these problems. The extension of the semester negatively impacted early graduates, resulting in work and post-graduation challenges as well as a lack of recognition and inevitably defeating the purpose of becoming an early graduate.

The extension of the first semester hurt several December graduates mentally. “The change of the date has not only made me more stressed but feel miserable honestly,” West Campus senior Erin Wieronski explained. “Being an early grad I thought that winter break meant that we were done with high school but it just doesn’t seem to end. The longer semester has stressed me out beyond belief.” She isn’t the only one.

Another struggle with the graduation date change was the amount of information (or lack thereof) that was happening throughout the first semester. MCHS did not inform communicate enough for early graduation, says West Campus senior Kristen Bulanda. “I feel they should focus on early grad requirements and needed information to make students feel more comfortable about the process.” This has been an issue for early graduates especially this year during all of the changes. Early graduates would rather be informed every time a change occurred than waiting for last minute concrete information.

Finally, early graduates feel they do not receive much recognition as an early graduate. “I wish there were scholarship opportunities through the school for becoming an early grad, or some type of recognition,” East Campus senior Ellie Veneziano explains, “but it does tend to go under the shadow when you are a candidate.”

Kristen Bulanda adds, “I believe we aren’t even recognized as early graduates. I didn’t know anyone else that was until the Zoom call. I feel like we are forgotten. Although we can go to prom and other events, I don’t believe we are appreciated or even encouraged to attend those events.“ These individuals worked hard, many taking extra courses and losing their lunch period just to reach the credit requirements to graduate just to fly under the radar and be forgotten.

The graduation date change was the largest issue this year and resulted in confusion as to why it happened in the first place. “I believe the date was changed because the state mandates how many days students need to be in school to earn credit as part of the certification process,” West Campus counselor JR Bocian explains. “When we switched to ‘A’ and ‘B’ days we were not able to meet those numbers because of actual hours per week in each class so we needed to extend the semester.”

The change was sadly necessary, however things could have been done better to both inform graduates and recognize their accomplishments. The pandemic created many struggles in regard to communication and that prevalently shows this year. Despite this, things still could be better in regards to communicating efficiently.

With early graduation just weeks away, early graduates are still stressed and confused as to what their next steps are. Several are stuck changing their work or post-secondary education plans to accommodate the situation the pandemic caused. However, these early graduates should be extremely proud of how much they have worked and how far they have come, regardless of the recognition they may or may not receive.