DHS teachers say goodbye to graduating seniors

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Wildcat Photo

Senior Egan Putman smiles for a hallway selfie with Spanish teachers Jessica Pennybacker and Lindsay O’Neil. Putman, who has been O’Neil’s Spanish student for two consecutive years, will be graduating this year with the rest of the class of 2021.

Ella Fixsen, Editor in Chief

As the class of 2021 seniors approach their last few days as De Soto High School students, they aren’t the only ones in the building feeling sentimental. Around the end of the school year, many DHS staff members dread the day that their upperclassman students say goodbye. 

Social studies teacher Ryan Robie has a special connection with many of the seniors within the graduating class of 2021, feeling grateful for the meaningful interactions he has encountered with these students. 

“For me, I got into teaching for the relationships. I love connecting with people,” Robie said. “I’ve known some of these seniors since they were little kids, so to see the growth in relationships that have been built over time has been great.”

For English teacher Crystal Sinclair-King, getting to experience her students’ feelings leading up to the graduation ceremony is one of the best parts of teaching senior classes. 

“I think that it’s definitely eye-opening and interesting to see the seniors as they get closer to graduating and they realize what that really means,” Sinclair-King said. “It’s something that they’ve been thinking about for a really long time, but once the reality starts to hit in May, it’s really fun to be part of that transition to whatever life is going to look like after.” 

Many staff members, including Spanish teacher Lindsay O’Neil, will miss playing a direct role in their students’ lives. 

“I think as a teacher, a parent and an adult, we know that we want kids to move on with their lives and be successful,” O’Neil said. “It’s exciting to see what their future holds, but it is sad to think that I won’t be part of it.”

Not only do these faculty members dislike the idea of being absent within their students’ lives, but hope that these students will continue to maintain connections as they face new challenges and experiences. 

“[The hardest part is] not knowing what the future holds for them [the seniors] and if they’ll come back and check in,” Robie said. “We hope they want to come back and share those successes with us.”

Although most teachers will miss their students’ daily attendance within their classrooms, the excitement toward their students’ future is much more evident. 

“Honestly, I’m just really excited for the seniors. I’m going to miss them of course, but I think that’s way outweighed by the fact that I’m excited for them to move on to the next step in their lives,” Sinclair-King said. 

Ultimately, DHS staff members want the class of 2021 to recognize what they have achieved throughout the entirety of this school year. 

“[The seniors’] ability to overcome the things that they’ve had to deal with this year is special,” Robie said. “I know it’s hard to believe in the moment, but we get stronger and better from adversity.”

As this years’ seniors dive into life after high school, teachers like Sinclair-King have words of wisdom for them heading into the future.

“I think that the most important thing is to be kind and realize that life is just a complete learning process,” Sinclair-King said. “Keep being curious and passionate.” 

Robie also offers some helpful advice to the graduating class, wanting them to know that he will always be ready to provide assistance as they embark on their post-high school journey. 

“Whatever you pursue, whether it’s very average or very big dreams, there’s going to be people that tell you no. If that’s the case, why not chase the biggest ones,” Robie said. “Go get what you want out of life, and I’m here to help in any way I can.” 

As for O’Neil, she can only let her graduating seniors know how much gratitude she feels toward the impact they have had on her life. 

“Thank you for enriching my life,” O’Neil said.