Sarah Grissom would not change much from her difficult senior year, except the masks
Sarah Grissom is among the seniors in Booneville whose days are numbered.
Those who are exempt from semester tests, like Grissom, will make the trek from class to class for the last time on Friday, April 30.
To say it has been a different year would be an understatement. Still, Grissom says flatly she would not change anything, except maybe having to wear a mask.
“It’s been better than I thought,” Grissom said. “All of the nerves have kind of gone away. Everything we thought was going to happen didn’t necessarily happen.”
Attending school during a pandemic was anything but ordinary, of course, but a determined Grissom has made the most of her senior year.
The highlights include being the Basketball Homecoming Queen, hitting a home run in a softball game, and performing with Arkansas' second-rated Class 3A band.
Before any of that could happen, a decision on whether there would be in-person instruction had to be made by officials in Little Rock.
The wait and see was a call for nervousness. After all, the incoming seniors had witnessed their 2020 predecessors have their year truncated, and graduation pushed into July.
Learning the option to be back on campus would be available was a big relief Grissom said, but she still had to actually decide to do it, with the mask included.
“I decided to come to school because I don’t think I could have handled doing a whole year virtual,” said Grissom, who is a 4.0 student. “It has been different, but it’s not as different now.”
Deciding against attending in person, or not being allowed to make the decision, would likely have limited Grissom’s day to virtual work and part-time work at CV’s, with little or no extracurricular activities.
Like her classmates, the decision was simply a matter of playing the hand dealt her.
On campus, Grissom’s hands often carried the mandated mask when social distancing was not possible, and or carried a flag or clarinet on Friday nights, but for only home games.
“The football season with the band only getting to go to home games, it just didn’t feel complete,” said Grissom, a six-year band student.
There were 13 football games, seven of which were at home, and road games meant a quest to acquire one of the limited seats available, sometimes very limited.
“I tried to make it to every away game I could just to be there, but not getting to go with all the band kids was kind of disappointing,” Grissom said.
Again, she’s really not resentful of living through the constant possibility of being required to quarantine – in some cases, required to quarantine again – or even catching the COVID-19 virus.
“People did get quarantined, teachers did, and stuff like that. We were out for a week beginning of the year, but in the second semester things have settled down,” said Grissom.
“This year could have been way worse than it was,” she adds. “It was stressful. You had to stay on your toes this year.”
While Grissom had a class with as few as five students, she had others where social distancing was completely impossible, and because her range of extracurricular activities spanned athletics, band, and more, she interacted with a lot, probably most, of her fellow students on a weekly, if not daily basis.
Besides playing softball – she had just returned to the game last season, which was shortened to only a few games in the early response to the coronavirus – Grissom took on the role of basketball manager this year. She had played the game previously but decided to step away.
“I kind of got roped into (managing) but then I thought, you know what, I’ll do it,” said Grissom. “It gave me a chance to be with the team but not really play. I did play my 10th-grade year but the environment I was in I was just not myself really.
“I was going to go to every home game I could go to and every away game that I could go to just to be there for them, but when I got asked to be a manager I thought: a free ticket into every game. But it also gave me a chance to create a different relationship with the girls other than just being a player on the bench.”
The manager role this year was much more detailed than in the past. For example, each player was assigned their own water bottle, seats, and so forth and there was any number of other things to consider – like having an extra mask.
Like the restriction of having no bands at away football games, the pandemic did interfere with Grissom and her classmates.
Grissom had friends who chose not to be on campus, for various reasons. She also planned to be in the cast of Frozen but there were COVID-related play practice interruptions that helped move the performance date and forced her to choose between performing on stage, or from a dugout – she simply did not have the time to do both.
The district marching assessment was virtual and on campus since trips were out of the question at the time. One band concert was virtual and another had limited attendance. However, one set for April 20 looks to be more of a typical concert.
The lifting of the mask mandate has made the final month of the senior year more normal, to a point.
“It’s weird coming to school and there’s no masks. It’s almost like you forgot it, and you’re in a panic,” Grissom said.
Looking forward to closing her days as a Booneville student, Grissom, the youngest of five siblings, said, “it’s been a journey, it really has. Being here since kindergarten and making it all the way to senior year. It has been like a blink and it’s done.”
“We made it.”
The daughter of David and Roberta Grissom, she plans to attend college at Arkansas Tech University in Ozark to pursue a degree in criminology.