Class of 2021 stay focused on their goals


Ariah Hernandez, Reporter

It was on March 13, 2020 that thousands of students around the Coachella Valley would abruptly leave school to quickly begin a two-week quarantine. 

Since then, seniors have come to the conclusion that all events, including prom and graduation, will most likely be canceled—though there is hope that the desert will transition to a new form of normalcy, as Riverside County has now transitioned to the red tier.

The beginning and end of high school are meaningful achievements students look forward to. A few of the graduating seniors at La Quinta High School have advice for the incoming class and their thoughts on the sudden halt their senior year came to and advice for the incoming class. 

“It started as such an ordinary day, COVID-19 hadn’t even crossed my mind. Until I was walking out of class, I had learned from a friend we were going into quarantine. It was all so sudden, I didn’t know it would be my last day on campus,” said Austin Ruiz ‘21.

He added that while distance learning has had its pros and cons, it has mostly been manageable.

“However, I know a lot of other seniors that have issues with learning the material from home. I think the hardest part for me is waking up because I don’t actually have to get up and go anywhere,” said Ruiz.

Emma Harvath ‘21, an IB full diploma candidate, said the pandemic affected her college plans. 

“I chose my college by major, location, and budget. I’m majoring in fashion and merchandising, which led to my pick of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City,” said Harvath. “It’s also in my favorite city and is within my college budget. It’s difficult choosing schools because we are not able to visit campuses.” 

Harvath’s advice to the incoming class is to stay focused on their goals.

“Don’t let people change you and always look at the bright side,” said Harvath. “For me, I would sometimes lose my motivation to achieve all the goals I have set for myself which is why I think it’s crucial to stay positive and focused.”

For Tyler Stephens ‘21, the sudden two-week lockdown was seen as a temporary order.

“I honestly thought we were going to be going on break for two weeks while COVID-19 passed by,” he said, “but I guess not.”

Stephens had some refreshing advice and study tips for the incoming freshman. 

“Be yourself no matter what. It doesn’t matter who you hang out with, what you do, and how you’re known, in the end, by senior year, you’ll have one to two good friends and you’ll see life in a completely different view,” said Stephens. “Stay true to yourself and you’ll get the best results in life.” 

Previously, Stephens had tried changing himself to fit other people’s perceptions, but I always came back to this same conclusion, it’s always better to be loved for who you are even if it’s by a few people rather than loved by lots of people for an artificial version of yourself.”

Stephens also addressed how he maintains a 4.0 GPA with social distancing. 

“Do your homework, and do it on time. Distance makes it much harder to grade late work or deal with students who are behind,” he said. “I know it’s stressful, but in the end, your weekends are better spent to yourself rather than catching up on late work.” 

However, he noted that this was a lesson he learned even prior to the pandemic. “Even before the pandemic, I had learned my lesson that it’s better to get your homework done and out of the way instead of procrastinating,” said Stephens. “I sometimes would finish my homework before the bell rang, which is always awesome because then you have more time for your personal life.” 

A pandemic certainly makes school work and life in general much more difficult. With vaccines being issued at a quicker pace and with the hybrid learning model in its second week, there is hope that life for students in the Coachella Valley will return to some level of normalcy.