Lawrence Central Valedictorian Claire Austin
Photographer / Eli Beaverson
Hey, Lawrence Central Class of 2020! We did it! Well, almost!
In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the initial two-week quarantine period was supposed to be the extent of our senior year disruption. Who could have imagined the final weeks of high school would consist of Zoom classes at home wearing sweatpants?
In some ways, the cancellations felt targeted, like COVID-19 was ripping away our senior experience. It took a little time, and a lot of perspective, to remember every single high school senior was dealing with similar frustrations and every single human in the world was experiencing varied disruptions and challenges. I found comfort in the frequently used cliché, “We’re all in this together.”
As closures became more prevalent and social distancing rules enforced, we were forced to accept that our graduation ceremony would look nontraditional. Out of all the changes during these unprecedented times, that seemed to be the hardest to embrace. High school graduation is considered a rite of passage. To me, and I’m sure my fellow classmates, it’s more than just the formalities of the ceremony. When feeling consumed with homework or overwhelmed with upcoming tests, the thought of graduation seemed to make it all worth it.
I know this was supposed to be our celebration. The culmination of the past four years of growth and hard work. The goal that served as one of the main motivations. A final goodbye to the classmates we have grown up with…wrapping up our high school career. Though many of us counted down the days until we could cross that stage, I think we can all agree this milestone achievement will be even more meaningful when we finally celebrate together this summer at our proper graduation ceremony.
While life has looked unconventional recently, I encourage the LC Class of 2020 to not let these past 10 weeks define our high school experience. As I reflected on our time spent at LC, one word, in particular, comes to mind — “outstanding.” For me, the meaning is twofold.
Our class always felt special. We certainly were outstanding in terms of our academic, athletic and performing arts accomplishments. The Class of 2020 has represented our school in exceptional ways, proudly sporting maroon and gray on the field, on the stage and in the classroom.
“Outstanding” also means, which I’ve come to realize in the past couple months, unresolved business. I can’t think of a more fitting description for our current situation. We’ve heard from older siblings and parents all the glory days stories about how the last nine weeks of senior year are the best times of high school — where the hard work finally pays off. We walked out of school on that fateful Thursday with no indication we would have to finish our high school career through a screen, but as LC Bears, we are strong and resilient.
When we are faced with adversity, we have developed the skills to not only persevere but thrive! Lawrence Central has certainly provided an incredible educational experience in the classroom, but the extraordinary relationships developed and the lessons learned in addition to the instructional time are truly what have shaped us into the people we are today.
Our abrupt ending led to outstanding items, and it’s up to us on how we approach our unfinished business. We may have missed traditional senior experiences — no prom, no spring sports, no spring musical, no senior luncheon — but one thing that can’t be taken away from us is that these past four years at Lawrence Central have prepared us for whatever is to come in the future. We learned we cannot always control our destiny, but we can make the most of every situation. We can and will proudly “cross that stage” throughout our lives, regardless of the circumstances.
As for me personally, I am beyond excited to be attending the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in the fall. I plan to major in marketing. Though I’m not exactly sure what I envision for life after college, I hope to weave my longtime passions for creativity and travel into my business career.
I was honored to have served as the Co-President of the LC Dance Marathon which raises money for Riley Hospital for Children. I look forward to continuing my dance marathon experience with IUDM. And while I am retiring from Competitive Dance after a 14-year run, my love for movement and expression may lead me to a couple of dance classes next semester! I am anxious to explore all the new opportunities and to experience campus life!
From the Lawrence Central Class of 2020, thank you to everyone who has supported us during the past four years and especially during these uncertain times. As Principal Bush proclaims on a weekly basis, the power of maroon and strength of gray unites and empowers us. We are the BEARS!
Lawrence Central Valedictorian 2020: Claire Austin
Parents: Jim and Barb Austin
Sister: Alexa Austin, LC ‘16