Seniors have their night, face-to-face

Trayton Radke (middle) and Nathan Fultz receive the National School Choral Award from Tracy Area High School choir director Wendy Johnson at last week’s TAHS Senior Recognition Night for the Tracy Area High School Class of 2021. Photo / Per Peterson

A year removed from a virtual event, Tracy Area High School opened its doors to the Class of 2021 for this year’s Senior Recognition Night

The Tracy Area High School Class of 2021 was honored last Wednesday night as they should be: in person.

Last year’s Senior Recognition Night took place virtually because of the pandemic, but this year, with some restrictions lifted, seniors and their parents were able to gather in the high school gym for the traditional night of celebrating the students’ achievements.

“This was a year packed full of senior-specific activities — their last high school virtual concert and play, their last time at State FFA, exploring post-secondary options, comparing colleges,” Vondracek said to open the event. “The emotions a parent or caregiver has for you seniors tonight are many as they look at you now, all grown up. We, as faculty and administration, are full of hope for all of you. We hope that we have prepared you academically and socially to be successful at whatever path in life you choose.”

Vondracek said it was nice to see all the parents at last week’s event after the school had to hold the event online for the Class of 2020.

“It just felt good to see all the parents, all the kids together,” she said. “We got to see just a little bit of ‘normal.’”

The only thing that was missing at this year’s event were the myriad presenters that normally would be on hand to give out the awards and scholarships. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, attendees were limited to parents, so school staff did the honors.

“This night is about both giving and receiving — the winners of tonight’s scholarships and awards receive financial help with their post-high school education,” high school counselor Sonja Gasca said. “The organizations giving this money do so because they believe in you and in furthering your education. It involves a sacrifice on their part, and all they expect is a ‘thank you.’”

Gasca said that more than $62,000 was given away by local organizations and alumni. Those, along with all the other scholarships that were given out this year, total more than $140,000.

“Seniors, please confirm our faith in you by taking the time to say ‘thank you’ to those making the scholarships possible,” Gasca said. “Thank you graduates of 2021 for your hard work, your dedication and your positive attitude. You will be missed, but we are excited for all of you as you begin a new chapter of your life.”