Long Island high school students have always been creative and inspiring. Over the years Newsday has been there as they've honored a lost friend at the prom or crowned a homecoming king who overcame a paralyzing injury to walk again. So when we asked high school seniors to send us images that represented what their year has been like, we weren't surprised when we got many thoughtful, interesting submissions. (We've edited some of the submitted captions for brevity and clarity.)
Farmingdale High School senior Diana Mancebo Pujols created the effect for this selfie by putting water on the photo and crumpling it up in her hands. She says, "Looking at this photo I'll always remember my senior year because no matter how difficult the situation is, no matter how strong the storm is, the sun will always rise and you will always shine."
Garden City High School's Olivia Escoffery fostered a sweet three-legged dog named Luna for Ruff House Rescue during quarantine and her senior year. Photo by Stacey Escoffery
Mount Sinai High School's Eleanor Dexter explains her drawing, saying that she and her friends " … express ourselves with our individualized styles, matching masks, and appreciation of our AP English Lit teacher [Corydon Doyle] despite the pandemic that left our final year of high school in ruins."
Eleanor Dexter: "This is a piece I created as a token of honor, to represent and amplify all of the efforts of the health care workers through this pandemic. The darkness behind them only emphasizes the lightness ahead."
"A deep blue girl huddles herself in a dark corner as she tries to grow from her hopeless pain but ends up getting swarmed by her negative thoughts," Long Island Lutheran High School senior Nia Samuel explains of her piece: "In the beginning of quarantine many of us had no idea what to make out of the pandemic situation or how to adjust. It brought many of us, especially Gen Z's, to this point. Even though everything felt so overwhelming we grew beautiful flowers from this experience."
As Nia Samuel explains, "This rainbow child is the representation of a human's potential through my perspective. We have so many aspects of us, both negative and positive, but they make up the beautiful creation we call 'human.' During the pandemic I came to terms with this beautiful understanding, which helped me accept myself and others around me."
Says Aidan McLaughlin, "Nothing can stop our Mepham High School senior soccer season! Let's go boys!" Photo by Christine McLaughlin
Mineola High School senior Claire Collura photoshopped this picture of her friends Keara Mulrooney, left, and Kristen Cox finding ways to enjoy life during the pandemic.
Mineola High School kept up its Senior Sunrise tradition. Photo by Mineola High School
Mineola High School senior Kristen Cox, left, caught a selfie with her "bestie" Colleen Miller during Senior Sunrise. Says Cox, "This is our year, we are making it special and safe."
Thomas Etts is a proud student in the music department of Centereach High School. Here he's getting ready to record his part for one of the many concerts that were done virtually this year because of the pandemic. He even had the opportunity to perform in a virtual chorus with Kelly Clarkson at the Billboard Music Awards in October 2020. Photo by Marie Etts
Etts started his first job during the pandemic. He loves the chance to meet new people and takes pride in his work at White Castle in Centereach. Photo by Hilda Gonzales
When Etts' grandparents moved into a skilled nursing facility in May 2019, he visited them at least once a week. During the pandemic, he continued to FaceTime them every week and kept their bond strong. He made sure they always felt loved and a part of his daily life.
William Floyd High School senior Makenna Savnik explains "A Year of Quarantine": "This painting was created not to represent a political view of what was happening during COVID, but the unrest and uncertainty that I felt as it was going on in the beginning."
This piece by William Floyd High School senior Eva Cruz shows the fast food consumption that rose during COVID-19.
This drawing from William Floyd High School senior Azucena Vanegas represents the kindness and importance of human touch, especially from a child to a grandparent.
"21 Days for Comsewogue High School's Class of 2021" was created to give the seniors some special memories after all that was lost to COVID-19. Day 1 was "Find Your Shamrock" on St. Patrick's Day. Photo by Nicole Danisi
Day 4 was "Drive-In Movie Night." On April 24, Comsewogue High School seniors watched a movie drive-in style on a Saturday night. Photo by Nicole Danisi
Day 5 was "Future You Night." On April 29, Comsewogue High School seniors created their post-high school posters and wrote letters to themselves. These letters will be sent to them four years from now. Day 6 was "Decision Day." On April 30, seniors celebrated National Decision Day by wearing a shirt that represents what they will be doing after high school. Students were also able to hang their posters. Photo by Nicole Danisi
Jericho High School Commitment Day during a pandemic! Despite a rough school year and application season, we are all off to amazing schools. Photo by Amy Rasmussen
Ellen Argueta, left, and Julia Spadaro hang out during the annual green and white day at Brentwood High School. Photo by Amber Connell
New Hyde Park Memorial High School's Joel Philipose swings for a right-side hit against Lawrence High School. Photo by Siya Sharma
"Fear of COVID" by Mineola High School senior Delanie Landivar: "The illustration I created depicts a senior in the corner of his/her high school feeling alone and threatened by the COVID virus. So many of us have lived in fear our senior year for ourselves and our loved ones."
Daniella Graffeo, 18, took this picture of Alyssa Flanders, 17. The Mount Sinai High School seniors were working on an AP photography project while following school safety precautions.
Matthew Goodman, left, and Alyssa Flanders, both 17, follow COVID-19 safety precautions during their lunch period at Mount Sinai High School. Photo by Daniella Graffeo
Kellenberg Memorial High School senior and valedictorian Emma Carmody sings at the Town of Hempstead 9/11 Memorial in Point Lookout. Photo by Joe Ciorra
Members of Kellenberg's Gregorian Consortium take a leap of faith on the beach at Point Lookout after singing at the Town of Hempstead 9/11 Memorial. Photo by Joe Ciorra
Members of Kellenberg's senior class enjoy McDonald's Happy Meals for lunch during their Finance Literacy Day. Photo by Kellenberg Memorial High School
Senior members of Kellenberg's "Cafeteria Cohort" don their Christmas sweaters on the last day of school before the holiday break. Students were divided into cohorts to maintain social distancing. Photo by Kellenberg Memorial High School
Plainview's Emily Howell performs her senior French horn recital at Juilliard Pre-College, playing in a mask to no audience. Photo by Kristin Howell
Mineola High School senior boys basketball players react to finding out there is going to be a season. Photo by Gina Buongiovanni
Mineola senior boys basketball players get their photos displayed in the school's lobby. Photo by Tristan Dougherty
Centereach High School senior Brandon Lloyd got to play his final year of football in the spring before going into the Navy. Photo by Randy Lloyd
Seniors from Garden City High School's marching band were happy to perform together again. Here they get ready for their final halftime show. Photo by Rosalie Panthaki
Garden City High School senior Colleen Buccellato is Villanova bound. Photo by Jeanne-Marie Buccellato
Center Moriches High School senior cheerleaders, from left, Carolyn Cofill, Destiny Rodriquez and Jenna Naples, helped build some school spirit. Photo by Jeremy Thode
Center Moriches High School senior Jordan Titus stood on top of the podium as a New York State wrestling champion. Photo by Jeremy Thode
Center Moriches High School girls basketball seniors Bella Reed and Erin Cunningham were happy to get back on the court. Photo by Jeremy Thode
Kellenberg Memorial High School girls softball senior Sam Grillo slides into second base vs. Molloy. Photo by Craig Chamides
West Islip High School senior James Takats got back on the football field this spring. Photo by Kathleen Takats