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Meet 7 high school seniors from across the country — our Class of 2024

Meet the class of 2024. (Courtesy)
Meet the class of 2024. (Courtesy)

Find out more about the Class of 2024.

This year’s senior class endured quite the high school experience. When they were freshmen, pandemic lockdowns kept them stuck at home.

Distance learning affected how they learned and socialized. Aside from pandemic restrictions, these students witnessed culture wars play out in their schools and an economy in flux. And many of them will be old enough to vote in Nov. 2024.

We’re following a group of seniors in different cities around the country as they navigate this last chapter of high school and cope with the infamous ‘senior scaries.’

“I’ve always heard junior year was the most stressful, but personally, I believe it’s senior year,” says Michigan student Leanne Nasser. “As much as we all don’t want to admit it, there’s this scary feeling that we’re running out of time and our childhood and youth are finally ending in one year.”

Meet the Class of 2024

Jimmy Merino

Jimmy Merino is the senior class president at Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Massachusetts.

He’s deeply interested in politics, so it’s no surprise that his favorite class is U.S. history with his favorite teacher, Ms. Asher.

“She has allowed me to foster a space to bring my voice and how to use and amplify my voice,” Merino says. “Without her, I definitely wouldn’t have found my passion in politics and government.”

Jimmy Merino. (Courtesy)

Beyond academics, there are plenty of activities he’s looking forward to enjoying again. Merino is part of the planning committee organizing the first homecoming since the pandemic started.

He’s excited for his senior year. But as a self-described first-generation Latino-American, he says he’s worried about what college will bring

“No one in my family has gone to college,” Merino said. “So my biggest fear is just the unknown and it’s not knowing what to anticipate in college.”

Saniyah Loving

Saniyah Loving is a senior at South Mountain High School in Phoenix.

Saniyah Lovings. (Courtesy)

“I’ve been so excited to move on to the next day, to go to college,” Loving says, “but I feel like now that I’m here, it’s kinda nerve-wracking.”

Her freshman year consisted solely of virtual learning, and going back in person for her sophomore year was tough.

“I feel like I cried my first three days of school having to sit with other people and talk and you know, group projects and present in front of the class,” she says. “It was kind of a lot.”

Loving played on the basketball team up until this year, and is now focused on her hair braiding business. After high school she plans to attend a reputable college so she can go to law school.

Leanne Nasser

In Dearborn, Michigan, Leanne Nasser enjoys attending the football games at Fordson High School, named after Henry Ford of the car company.

In 2020, the pandemic robbed her sister of a proper graduation ceremony. And Nasser worries it could happen to her too.

“We’re saying goodbye to a chapter that started in a pandemic and now we’re praying to God it doesn’t end in one, especially with COVID cases rising recently,” she says.

Leanne Nasser. (Courtesy)

She’s president of her school’s National Honor Society and vice president of the Muslim Student Association.

She’s packed a lot into her senior year. It’s much different than her freshman year, which was entirely remote with no extra-curricular activities.

“Although we didn’t have the proper welcome, I want to make sure I’m giving the proper goodbye to high school,” she says. “And we end that chapter on good terms despite what we started it with.”

Alex Christopher

Alex Christopher. (Courtesy)

Alex Christopher is a senior at Milford High School and Applied Technology Center in Milford, New Hampshire.

“It’s going to be really sad when I’m not here anymore,” he says, “but I’m also going to be really happy when I’m not here anymore because I don’t have to wake up at 6:30.”

Like the others, he toiled away freshman year online.

But he attended one class in person: culinary, the class changed his life.

“I was like, ‘man, this is just a good time I get to make food that tastes good.’ I get to just have a good time with the kids in the class,” Christopher says. “It’s a lot less like schoolwork-y. I like this class and that just translated out into cooking stuff outside of school.”

So after graduation, he’s considering attending culinary school and pursuing a career as a chef.

Aaron Ton

In Everett, Washington, the Mariner High School orchestra warms up with Aarron Ton as its principal violinist.

He’s involved heavily with orchestra, but still makes time for sports. He’s on the swim team, he runs track and field, and he’s also captain of the cross country team.

Aaron Ton. (Courtesy)

Ton stays busy ashe feels the loss of his fully remote freshman year.

“If I had more of a normal school experience, I would have discovered things sooner and maybe gotten to do things more and also just building my own character,” he says.

Paige Rowell. (Courtesy)

Paige Rowell

Paige Rowell goes to Westlake High School in South Fulton, Georgia. She has a full plate this year; she’s a member of the National Honor Society, secretary of the student tech association and manager of the basketball team.

She spent most of her high school journey online, and she could have graduated last year as a junior, but she stayed an extra year to get that full high school experience.

“We have our homecoming game, our homecoming dance, our senior night game. We have prom,” Rowell says. “I feel like all of those activities are what makes your senior year your senior year, and I’m excited for it.”

An’Davantae Bussey

An’Davantae Bussey. (Courtesy)

Much of the American high school experience revolves around the football field, which is where An’Davantae Bussey spends his time. He’s on the varsity team at Hickman High in Columbia, Missouri. Bussey also plays the basketball team. Plus, he plays clarinet in the school band.

He says he went through a lot during the pandemic, especially watching his favorite teacher, Ms. el-Khatib, leave for a job outside of the classroom.

“She took care of me … When I was hungry, she would feed me,” he says. “She was always there for me, and she cared for me.”

Bussey has mixed emotions about the year, but for now, he looks forward to graduating and experiencing college.

Catherine Welch produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Ciku Theuri. Welch adapted it for the web.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.