Class of 2021: Ready to take on the world after reinventing high school experience

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Claudia Fieiras, CHS Class of '21

Claudia Fieiras is one of the two members of Craig’s graduating class of 2021 to speak at commencement. She is an accomplished soccer and basketball player, and this season she broke the school record for total points in a career. Over her four years, she scored 1400 points. In the fall she will attend Edgewood College to study nursing and to continue her basketball career.

She and four other classmates auditioned to speak at the ceremony. A committee consisting of Craig principal Dr. Bjoin, English teachers Ms. Begovatz and Mr. Holmquist, and the four class officers of the senior class listened to the speeches in April. In order for Claudia’s inspiring words to be heard by as many people as possible, they are published here:

Good evening Class of 2021. Welcome administration, faculty, staff, parents, friends, and family to the 2021 Janesville Craig graduation. My name is Claudia Fieiras, and it is my great honor and privilege to address the Craig High School Senior class of 2021. 

If the past four years have taught us anything, it is that perseverance and tenacity have grown in each and every one of us.

As I reflect on our freshman year, 2018 was a fresh start and a new beginning. We arrived through the doors of Craig High school with a plethora of different emotions. Apprehension, fear, motivation, excitement, and optimism as we realize this is our beginning of a new journey. A journey that will lead the class of 2021 to explore and experience all that high school has to offer.

This year of transition introduced us to new friends, teachers, and administration, and along with challenging coursework, offered us opportunities to be involved in a wide variety of sports, clubs, and activities. Involvement in these offerings gave us a chance to explore and identify our interests and passions. By the end of our freshman year, we had a clearer established identity and we became more comfortable within our environment and culture, as well as mastering the art of playing Fortnite.   

Sophomore year ushered in opportunities for independence and offered us the chance to begin exploring future endeavors and vocations. We were given the opportunity to travel the world from exotic to historical and beyond. Mainly, the classroom was where our world was expanded as we learned about various people and places.

The journey continued as we obtained our driver’s license, also known as the teenage right of passage. Most passed the test on their first attempt, but for others, the additional practice was necessary. Suddenly we had to learn how to get places by ourselves, without our parents as chauffeurs.

We entered Junior year as upperclassmen, excited for the experiences we were destined to have. As we began to explore post-high school opportunities, we prepared for the ACT, attended college visitations, took internships, job shadowed, worked part-time jobs, and continued to pursue our interests and passions and where they would ultimately lead us.

Unexpectedly, our world was rocked to the core in March 2020 when a global pandemic was declared, and everything came to a screeching halt.

The impact of Covid-19 was catastrophic.

In our world, the impact was huge as we lost instructional time, sports seasons, prom, trips, competitions, and many more events and experiences. It comes as no surprise that the past year and a half has been filled with challenges both at school and in our personal lives. Facemasks, social distancing, virtual meetings, handwashing, and isolation were our new norms. Binge-watching Tiger King and making Tik Toks also provided entertainment during quarantine. 

Despite the ongoing challenges of Covid 19, we made it. All aspects of our senior year were reinvented and we adapted to a new normal.

Fall sports took place in the Spring, Spirit Week was tied together with Prom, and going to school every other day was the new normal. Constant changes have been embraced in so little time.

The class of 2021 is truly resilient! I have never seen a class face so much adversity during these unsettling times, but yet embrace the constant changes we have been given. Reflecting on our senior year, we have embraced our lives, given the tumultuous changes, and became creative, contributing students reinventing our high school experience.

But most importantly, together we have accepted and adapted as one school community. Class of 2021, as I look ahead to our future, I have no doubt that wherever this journey may lead us, each and every one of you will blossom in society while following your dreams and passions.

As written by Poet Amanda Gorman, “The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Thank you.