Senior Flucos Participate in Decision Day

By Madeline Otten

Fluvanna County High School seniors were able to celebrate their Decision Day on May 1 but with a virtual twist. In the past, seniors would have the end of the day to celebrate with their fellow classmates and teachers on their postgraduate plans. However, with the challenges brought by COVID-19 and changing in-classroom teaching to online, seniors were able to celebrate virtually and safely from home. 

“I thought it was important to have Decision Day on May 1 last year and thought it was important to do it again this year on the actual day,” said FCHS College Adviser Haden Parrish. “I wanted to do what I could to have a structured event for my students since other major events for them are being cancelled or postponed.”

Back in March, Parrish received an email from a student Chloe Morris who was inquiring about Decision Day shirts and the event, even if it was to be held at home. Parrish knew how much his students were looking forward to the event, and this email inspired him to work harder for a real event to take place. 

Parrish got the okay for funding the event on April 16 and got to work to make sure this Decision Day was going to be memorable for his students. Students were notified through email, robocalls to home, and through a Facebook and Instagram post about the three days they could come to the school and receive their free Decision Day shirt. On the first day of pick up — April 24 — 97 students and parents came within the first hour. Parrish was not alone and received help from teachers Hunter Pace,  Jason Davis,  Maureen Stonesifer, and Erika Morris. Parrish and him team wore masks and gloves and students and parents were asked not to get out of their cars to maintain distance from one another. Along with the shirt, students received an information packet that contained a “to” and “from” thank you cards that allowed students to write in their sentiments. Students then took a picture of the note and emailed it to Parrish who passed it along to the recipient. 

 “The virtual decision day was an awesome idea! Decorating the shirt gave me something to do and it was super fun,” said FCHS senior Abby McGrath. “After seeing everyone’s shirt posted along with the school or military branch they were going into, it was like we were all coming together as a class, although we are all apart in these times. I feel like it gave everyone a chance to be proud of what they will be doing after high school as well as being able to be recognized before all of us go our own way.”

Senior Zikala Palmer picked up her decision day shirt on the first day, but was not ready to design her shirt just yet. 

“It took me some time because I felt spiritless, never thinking that a virus could come and change events that were a part of my senior year,” said Palmer. “On April 29 I started on my decision day shirt with a more positive mindset because you cannot dwell on things that are out of your control.”

Palmer was grateful for the time to create her Decision Day shirt the way she wanted to and with enough time to put effort into it. Palmer will be attending Virginia State University to pursue nursing. 

A total of 145 shirts were distributed, which is almost the same number of students that came to Parrish’s decision day event last year. 

FCHS students are traveling far and wide to start their new adventures. While some are joining the military and will be traveling, senior Alisha Hunsaker is traveling the farthest (college-wise) and attending Utah State University, which is 2,082 miles away from the high school. Another Fluco traveling far is Sarah White, who will be traveling the second farthest away to University of Colorado, Boulder, which is 1,635 miles from the high school. 

“I had doubts about how we could celebrate virtually, but my expectations have been far exceeded and I have been beyond proud of what all my Flucos have been able to accomplish,” said Parrish. “I applied to become a college adviser because I recognized how much this county had done for me and how it was fundamental in making me who I am, and I desired to return just a portion of what I had been given. My AmeriCorps service further opened my eyes to my passion for education, and I hope to return to the area to work as a school counselor with future generations of Flucos,” said Parrish. 

With the school year coming to an end, Parrish will be wrapping up his time at FCHS like his senior students to start his Masters of Education in the Human Development Counseling Program in the School of Counseling track at the Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. This was Parrish’s second year as a college adviser with FCHS in an AmeriCorps program called the Virginia College Advising Corps. 

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