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The Bay’s senior class officer team hosted its first Senior Palooza celebration in the form of an on-campus carnival on May 15. English 4 Honors and AICE Classical Studies teacher and senior class adviser Tori Warenik said besides commemorating the end of a high school career for seniors, the event contributed to the human component of student life as a whole.

“Without getting the chance to celebrate the accomplishment of getting to that finish line, school is just a place to hang your hat for eight hours a day, five days a week,” Warenik said. “School may partly be about learning, but we all know that it is really about making connections and memories with people before you take the leap to the relative unknown.”

In exchange for the $60 entry fee, attendees were provided with music from a DJ, as well as an assortment of food from Shorty’s BBQ, including hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, veggie burgers and corn on the cob. Warenik said this setup was organized to combine prom and the Senior Barbeque because such traditions would have otherwise been abandoned amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Senior Palooza is important to the class because there has been a disconnect from what school has always been to what it has transitioned to,” Warenik said. “Senior Palooza gives the seniors a chance to get a slice of what they’ve been missing during the pandemic.”

Senior Alec Cao said the biggest reason he decided to attend Senior Palooza was because of its ability to make up for isolation during the pandemic. He said the carnival games and the opportunity to be with friends seemed like a remedy to the quarantine blues.

“I decided to attend senior palooza because I felt that I have not gotten to engage in any sort of senior activities or experiences for most of the year, as the level of interaction with friends and teachers is not the same,” Cao said. “I am most looking forward to enjoying the socialization that I have been deprived of for the past 13 months.”

Cao said although other events were also organized in response to the social setbacks of the pandemic, Senior Palooza was special due to how it was held independently from standard school hours. He said this distinct separation from academics in the name of socialization was especially appealing to him because of his extroverted personality. 

“This event is set apart from the rest because it is the truest form of social interaction; Senior Day was definitely fun, but this event is designed for us to simply be together without having to worry about classes,” Cao said. “Not going to school has made it tough, since I am the type of person who loves going to school, and this is almost a reward for having made it through this year.”

Preparations for the event included raising money through collaborations with BurgerFi, Chipotle and Gelato Gourmet and spreading the word via senior class teachers, the senior class Canvas page, the Bay’s website, Instagram and Twitter. Senior and Senior Class President Liz Bagatini said although the pandemic made organizing this event difficult by only allowing for socially distanced fundraising and reducing the efficacy of on-campus flyers, the atypical circumstances made coordinating such endeavors all the more critical. 

“Not being able to promote events face-to-face has made it a lot harder to reach people,” Bagatini said. “When planning an event, there will always be a challenge, but no matter what, there is always a way to get creative and work around it.”

Bagatini said although her primary job as a class officer was to oversee the event so its proceedings ran smoothly, she was also able to appreciate all it had to offer from a senior’s point of view. She said she encouraged all of her peers to take advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime experience to dance, play, eat and connect with one another. 

“This is an important occasion because it allows us to reminisce the old times as a class, and it invites seniors to enjoy a combination of all the events we didn’t get to have,” Bagatini said. “It gives us the possibility to make memories, and I’m looking forward to seeing us all together again.”