Whether Learning Online or In Person, Spring ISD Campus Traditions Persist Despite COVID-19

by Pete Lares
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Members of the Spring Early College Academy senior class hold up their candles during the school’s annual Senior Lighting ceremony, held online this year due to COVID-19

Members of the Spring Early College Academy senior class hold up their candles during the school’s annual Senior Lighting ceremony, held online this year due to COVID-19.

HOUSTON – Sept. 17, 2020 – Not even a pandemic could keep the seniors of Spring Early College Academy from marking the beginning of their last year of high school with the traditional celebration known as Senior Lighting. Shortly after online classes kicked off the 2020-21 school year in Spring ISD, members of the school’s Class of 2021 gathered virtually to show off their homemade senior crowns, light a candle symbolizing their perseverance, and encourage each other to stay strong and make the most of their senior year.

“The lighting today is supposed to represent the new beginning,” senior class Vice President Muzet Berhane told fellow students during the event, held over Google Meet so all could participate at a safe distance. “I know we’re in uncertain times, and we have no clue how the future may go, but I have faith that this senior year we’ll have the creativity and the determination to make the year the best that it can be.”

The seniors, many of whom will finish next spring earning both their high school diploma from Early College and their associate degree from Lone Star College-North Harris, have already made the transition into college-level coursework and planning for their futures after graduation. That doesn’t mean, however, that they don’t still cherish many of the same events and traditions as their peers attending the district’s larger comprehensive high schools.

AP Human Geography teacher and senior class sponsor Andrew Stewart congratulated the group on beginning their senior year and assured them that they had what it took to make it through.

“I think we’re going to have an ultimately successful year,” Stewart told the group at the start of the online ceremony. “Even though it’s a little wonky, we’re going to make it work, and make it fun.”

Housed directly on the Lone Star-North Harris campus, Spring Early College Academy – a 2020 Best High School according to U.S. News & World Report rankings – attracts a small but ambitious group of students, many of whom choose the school specifically for the opportunity to earn up to two years’ worth of college credit for free while still in high school.

With one foot in each world – finishing high school while already attending college classes on the Lone Star-North Harris campus – celebrations like Senior Lighting take on a special importance for seniors, as milestones and rites of passage that help ground students’ high school experience while also keeping them focused on their goals and dreams for the future.

Spring Early College Academy Principal Kristine Guidry told the group that they were in the process of making history, and that she was proud to be working with them during such memorable times.

“What you’re experiencing now is going to be written about for years to come. You’re going to tell your families, you’re going to tell your children about it,” Guidry said. “I’m really looking forward to how you take what you’ve been given, in this situation, and how you make it and own it as your own.”

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