‘Time to reflect’: Class secretary uses downtime to look back, lift up peers

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  • South Hadley senior athlete Maddie Doolittle is the class secretary and the president of the National Honor Society. She was on the school’s first-ever state championship soccer team last fall but won’t be able to compete in track and field this spring. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Hadley senior athlete Maddie Doolittle is the class secretary and the president of the National Honor Society. She was on the school’s first-ever state championship soccer team last fall but won’t be able to compete in track and field this spring. Photographed on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 5/20/2020 6:23:14 AM

Editor’s note: Over the past four years, the Class of 2020 has made their voices heard, advocating for women’s rights, against gun violence and for action on climate change. They’ve also shone in the classroom, on stages and on playing fields. And then, just as senioritis was supposed to set in, along with a season of celebration, the global pandemic struck. For the next few days, the Gazette is spotlighting students in the Class of 2020 — congratulations to all the graduates and their families.

SOUTH HADLEY — As secretary for the Class of 2020 at South Hadley High School, Maddie Doolittle says that her role as a class officer has brightened her outlook as she and her peers finish up the year remotely.

Part of what has helped is celebrating the accomplishments of her classmates, along with the other class officers. “We’re really trying to make this better for people, so we’re less worrying about ourselves,” said Doolittle, who’s also the president of the National Honor Society. “It kind of makes it easier in that way — we’re focusing on lifting other peoples’ spirits, and in turn it kind of does that for us, too.”

That’s not to say that Doolittle hasn’t felt the emotional and social strain of completing her high school years remotely. The day that the district moved to remote learning, Doolittle was originally supposed to travel to North Carolina to compete in track and field nationals with her teammates and fellow Tigers.

“It just stinks to not be able to finish out your last season of sports with your favorite people ever,” said Doolittle, who was on the school’s first-ever state championship soccer team last fall. The track and field competition is currently rescheduled for later in the summer — as is the high school’s graduation ceremony — but Doolittle expects both of those dates to change as well.

“It’s super disappointing to not be able to be in school with your classmates and your friends you’ve had for 12 years,” she said, adding that it was emotional to part from her classmates without knowing when they would be able to come together again.

But working with the other class officers, Doolittle has been finding creative ways to recognize her peers.

When “decision day” arrives each May 1, the senior class typically wears their chosen college’s apparel and gathers in the gym, where they take pictures as a class. To recreate some of that experience and highlight the accomplishments of their classmates, the officers created an Instagram page, shhs.classof2020, dedicated to sharing their classmates’ plans for after high school.

The account shares individual posts highlighting students’ colleges of choice or alternative plans, such as trade school or joining the military, in addition to information such as their academic majors and commitments to their colleges’ athletic teams or certain academic programs.

As for her own post-graduation path, Doolittle plans to attend Syracuse University in the fall, double majoring in marketing management and television.

In this new era of social distancing, Doolittle now feels that she and her peers took for granted their time together. But the past couple of months have also allowed her to see her high school experience in a new light. 

“It really gives you time to reflect and see how lucky we were over the past four years,” she said, “to be able to spend it with each other.”

Jacquelyn Voghel can be reached at jvoghel@gazettenet.com.



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