The class of 2021 has experienced a year no other senior class has ever experienced before.

Online classes, modified sports seasons, and cancelled events are just a few of the many changes culminating in a very unexpected and often dissappointing year for this year’s graduating class. However, many of my classmates have made a concerted effort to remain positive in spite of the difficult season. Back in August, many of us were crushed to have our final year of high school start with distance learning and a statewide lockdown. We eventually accepted that it wouldn’t be a typical year, but we still held on to hope for some return to normalcy before our graduation. As our final semester came to a close this month, I caught up some of my classmates for their thoughts on their experience thus far.

Expectations Vs. Reality

Tani Yoshioka

Tani Yoshioka: Since we were forced to go online, I anticipated growing apart from a lot of my classmates and friends. However, I actually got a lot closer to a lot of my friends despite our lack of physical socialization. Not being able to see people you care about makes you appreciate the time you have together even more, especially since we weren’t sure if in person school would even be possible in our senior year.

Shayli Maruya: In all honesty, high school isn’t as terrible as people say it is. It’s really polarizing. People always say that it’s great or terrible, hard or easy, etc, but anyone can get by if they’re responsible with what they do. You don’t have to stay up till 2am doing homework if you manage your time well. As long as you go in having your priorities straight, then I think it’ll be okay.

Sydney Senter: I think that leading up to senior year, the biggest expectation for me was the idea of finally being at the top. We had endured all of our high school years with the vision in mind that we would be able to one day have special senior privileges, events, and experiences. Along with this, I also expected to have the opportunity to lead our class through one last year but also to be a role model for the underclassmen as they navigate through the trials of high school. However, the reality was that opportunities to do these things were extremely limited and difficult to take advantage of because of the pandemic.

Best Surprise This Year

Tani: The best surprise this year was being able to shoot a short video for halau during spring break. Tiffany, Brandi, and I choreographed the song “Forever” by Kari Jobe and we had a professional film crew film us around campus. The video was mainly for the alumni association, so we were lucky to have a small part in it. The last time we danced together was over a year ago, so it was nice to have one final project before the year ended. 

Shayli: I think the biggest surprise of this year was the sports season. I didn’t think that there was going to be cross country/track this year, and I’m not gonna lie, I was happy about it, because even thought I’m decently good at running, it’s hard, and I didn’t really want to do it. However, there was a season, and I didn’t regret doing it. Usually, our team has this big end of the season potluck that’s basically dedicated to the seniors and even though we couldn’t have the potluck this year, the girls on my team still planned an afternoon activity for us, and it was really sweet of them. 

Favorite Memory

Parker Yara

Parker Yara: Probably just hanging with friends on car rides or chilling together. So many memories and funny moments happened during these times, and even though it may seem simple and basic, those are the memories that I always will remember.

Sydney: My favorite memory of senior year was probably Senior Skip Day, because it was the first time that the entire class really got to come together. At Kualoa Ranch, we got to participate in so many amazing activities like kayaking, a bus tour, dance challenges, and a talent show! I’m so thankful that we were able to be together for a super fun day and just make some final memories together as a grade. 

College Decision Process

Tani: I wish I applied to more colleges so that I’d have more options. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted, and I didn’t have any specific college I was really interested in. Also, not being able to visit colleges firsthand made the decision process a lot harder, since pictures and videos only seem to capture the good parts of the college while hiding any negatives. 

Rylie Lee

Rylie Lee: Since the whole college decision process was done online, it was a very unknown experience. You have to research each school that you want to apply to, know what schools you want to apply to, send in your application with your transcripts and scores, etc. You also really need to consider the financial options that are available and if the college you want to go to is worth taking out like 60k in loans.

Shayli: Honestly, college decisions weren’t as stressful as I thought they would be. I’m still not entirely sure where I want to go, but I still feel confident saying that it’s not super difficult unless you procrastinate and don’t do your research. Just remember to be sure of what you’re looking for in a college before you apply anywhere and don’t be afraid to get a peer to review your applications. 


Tani: Don’t take classes just because you feel like it’s the “next step” academically. It’s better to pursue classes you’re actually interested in. Of course, it’s good to challenge yourself; however, know that it’s okay to pursue your passion even if it isn’t necessarily a core class. Don’t take AP physics unless you wanna die. Always bring a jacket to Bible class.

Rylie: Make sure you have a great support system, whether it be your friends, family, teachers, etc. Also, just because a college has a great name, make sure it is the right one for you; not just major, but consider finances, location, campus life, etc. Finally, ask for help. You’re not weaker for knowing when you need help. 

Shayli Maruya

Shayli: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. I know I would’ve had regrets if I chose not to try something new or do something that I wasn’t used to. Embrace different things and different experiences. Also, don’t be stupid. Take a minute to think of your actions before you do something that could potentially harm yourself or others. Most high schoolers lack maturity so avoid those cringe worthy moments by just stopping to think before you do something.

Any Regrets?

Rylie: I wish I started a major organization or project that would’ve gotten me into Harvard.

Shayli: I honestly wish that I could just erase all my memories from before junior year because I did some dumb and weird things. Of course, the worst moments shaped me as a person and helped me mature and learn, but I wish that I acted based on logic rather than emotions in the past. It always sucks when I’m trying to sleep and some cringey memory from 9th grade pops up in my head. 

Sydney: I have no regrets.


Tani: There’s no point in dwelling on “what could’ve been” because this pandemic is out of our control. Sometimes I think about everything we’ve lost and get really sad cause I was really looking forward to experiencing these events one last time as a senior. However, I still try to find value in our senior year even if it’s nothing like we’d imagined. As the realization that we’re all going our separate ways in a few months slowly sets in, I’m just trying to make the most of the time we have left. 

Rylie: Although COVID affected the way we lived and learned, we need to adapt to the changes thrown at us in order to succeed

Sydney: Expect the unexpected. Once you do that, you can go into every experience with the intention to make the most of every moment.


The Thing You Were Looking Forward to the Most

Tani: When I was in elementary school I always thought high schoolers were so grown up, but now that I am one I realize that I’m just as clueless and I really have no idea what I’m doing most of the time. Also, I always looked forward to high school dances because I thought they were some sort of magical experience based on what I’d seen in movies and TV shows. 

Rylie: Since I’ve been at HBA for so long, I was especially looking forward to our senior trip. It was the last event before graduation where our class could be together as a united grade. This year, we won’t get that experience except for a one day field trip to Kualoa Ranch where rashguards are required. Obviously, it is something to look forward to, but it definitely does not compare to going to Maui for three days and just being together having fun. 

Sydney Senter

Sydney: I was looking forward to graduation because it acts as the ending mark of my 13 years at HBA. To have been able to grow up here along with the other Class of 2021 lifers has been such a blessing and I am so thankful to finish everything off with them. 

How has HBA Impacted You?

Tani: Being at HBA for 13 years allowed me to form close relationships with classmates, since we basically grew up together. It’s nice to have so many shared memories because we can all relate to each other, and we understand each other better than others. 

Rylie: HBA has taught me what it is like to have teachers and faculty care for you. Since it is a smaller campus, everyone knows everyone and you’ll rarely see someone you don’t know. Because of this, the teachers actually try to help you understand and get to know you on a personal level. College isn’t always like this, so I’m trying to relish it while I can. 

Sydney: Coming into HBA in kindergarten, I was extremely shy and reserved. However, over the years, my classmates and the teachers at HBA have helped me to break out of my shell and I am forever thankful for that. I wouldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for this amazing school

One Thing You Want Other Lifers to Know

Tani: Try to get something out of all the things you’ve tried over the years, even if it’s really small. You’ve experienced a lot and whether you realize it or not, these events have greatly shaped who you are as a person. Also, take time to reconnect with old teachers and your fellow lifer friends before you graduate. Reminisce on the good times and the bad ones because it will remind you just how far you’ve come. 

Rylie: The only advice I can give is don’t let others’ opinions of HBA change your experience. There’s always going to be something you don’t like, but it is what you make of your situations that truly matter. 

Sydney: I would tell other Lifers to always check in with your fellow Lifers. Have conversations with each other throughout the school year and don’t let that special bond break. 13 years is a long time and these are the kinds of friendships that have the potential to last many years beyond your high school careers.