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United Way of Lancaster County


Tyler Heiney’s Reflections

class of 2020 final

The 2019-20 school year has been unlike any other. As the school year comes to a close, OneUnitedLancaster invited local educators, students and their families to reflect on the past school year, in their words...

To be completely honest, when I started my senior year at Penn Manor High School this year, this is not how I pictured it ending. With the end of my senior year, I had pictured a prom at the Eden Resort, walking across the graduation stage at Franklin & Marshall College, and senior week at Rehoboth Beach, not social distancing in my house for three months.

I really struggled at first, going from seeing my friends every day in class and hanging out with them after school, to not seeing them for weeks at a time. At some points I felt like it was taking a toll on not only my friendships, but my relationship as well. It gets hard to work problems out over the phone without being able to see them.

Amongst all of this, there was still schoolwork that needed to be done. When school was first canceled, it was only supposed to be for two weeks. During those two weeks I kept up with all my work, not wanting to fall behind for when we came back. Soon after though, as schools began pushing back even more, it hit me that school would be over for the year, and with it all the activities that as a senior, I looked forward to the most. I lost all motivation to do my work, and evidently fell behind in all my classes. In my mind, I had nothing to look forward to or to work for, and even if I didn’t do my work, they can’t punish me, they already took everything away. I had this mindset for a long time.  I spent my days playing basketball and tennis, watching TV, and playing video games, ignoring all my responsibilities as a student at Penn Manor.

My father is also a teacher in the school district, and many times throughout quarantine I would hear him talk about how he was struggling as a teacher, and it all clicked for me. It is not all about the senior class. Sure, compared to most classes before us and the many classes to come after us, we may have been unlucky, but there are also 100+ teachers at Penn Manor that have around 1,700 combined students, who all like me have lost motivation to do their work. It was after this that I started noticing how much effort my teacher was putting in to try and engage the students. Mrs. Craig was sending out daily reminders to students through Google Classroom, and I received daily personalized emails from her, reminding me and encouraging me to stay on track and making sure that I know she is there if I need any help. This showed me just how much she really cared about her students and how much she wanted to help us pass the class.

After my realization, I got back to work on all my assignments. I was about a month and a half behind, so it took a while, but I was able to get everything done, and I owe that to my parents and Mrs. Craig. Before this year I never had a strong bond with a teacher, I just looked at them as instructors I saw for an hour and a half a day, but this year I really felt a bond with Mrs. Craig, and without her, I would not have been able to find the motivation to continue my school work.

Completing my schoolwork did not bring all of my senior activities back though. Instead of the giant stage at F&M, my brother and I walked across a stage in a tent at our athletic fields. While it does not seem glorious, it was well put together, and I know the district did everything in their power to make it memorable for us. Prom was not brought back either. I was lucky enough to be able to have a makeshift prom set up by me and a few of my friends’ parents though. I am eternally grateful for that as I know each and every parent put their all into it to make sure that my friend group was able to celebrate a senior prom. As for senior week, well, we will see.

This is not how I expected my senior year to end, but I know God has had this planned out since the beginning, so I trust him. Congratulations to the class of 2020 as a whole.  While it’s not the memory we all thought, I don’t believe any of us will be forgetting this anytime soon.