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Poplarville High’s valedictorian and salutatorian reflect on senior year disrupted by COVID-19

Ravyn Garrett and Aislynn Andrews, Poplarville High School’s 2020 valedictorian and salutatorian respectively, had an unconventional senior year as classes were cut short due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Garrett said it was hard not seeing her friends at school and making her last high school memories with them. She didn’t know her last day of high school would be her last.

“Cherish every moment,” Garrett said. “[High school] is something you never get back.”

Garrett was taking mostly college classes through dual enrollment during her senior year. When schools closed, all of her classes moved to an online format.

Garrett said the hardest challenge for her was learning without someone being there in person to teach her.

“I wasn’t able to have the one-on-one interaction that I had in class,” Garrett said.

She will be attending the University of Mississippi in the fall. She said there was a delay in finding out about her scholarship status due to COVID-19, and she was not able to tour the campus since her orientation also took place on Zoom.

Though she is undecided about her major, Garrett knows she wants to one day be an author and write young adult novels. She also wants to be involved in student government at the University of Mississippi.

Garrett is a presidential scholar and was the Beta Club president at Poplarville High School. She was admitted to the honors college at the University of Mississippi and will be a Lucky Day Success Scholarship recipient.

“I feel a little uncertain, but I’m pretty confident that we have bright futures ahead,” Garrett said.

Andrews said that when the pandemic began, at first, she didn’t want to accept it was real.

She was not able to finish her softball season due to the pandemic. Andrews said she only got to play about six games.

“Cherish every day no matter how mundane or boring it may seem,” Andrews said.

She said the hardest challenge for her was adapting to the new pandemic routine and not being able to see her friends.

“[College] admissions got 10 times harder,” Andrews said. “It was already challenging.”

Andrews said doing everything online without face-to-face guidance was difficult.

Andrews will be attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on a softball scholarship. Her school’s orientation also took place via a Zoom call.

“It was very strange just being in my bedroom,” Andrews said.

She is a recipient of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Athletic Scholarship. Andrews said she wants to enter the engineering field and she aspires to travel the world one day.

“I want to show my little sisters you can do stuff that’s great even though you are a girl,” Andrews said.

In regards to the future of the graduating class of 2020, Andrews said, “I feel like we will have a lot of eyes on us.”