Seniors reflect on their time as Grizzlies

The last four years have been a weird and wild ride for the graduating Class of 2021


Jake Gebracht

A look into the campus that the Class of 2021 once called home. Now as they depart on their future endeavors, it becomes a part of their past.

Four years later and the Class of 2021 is still standing. Barely. 

After being welcomed to Cal High by false fire alarms ringing in our ears to senior year assassins leaving multiple casualties, this class has been through thick and thin. Here are some of our most memorable moments.

Freshman year (2017-18)

Our first year of high school started off with incredibly loud BLEEPS with the fire alarm craze of 2017. It seemed that every other day we would be evacuating the classroom to gather on the football field. Got a Spanish test? No problem! Just pull down on one of those magical red boxes in every hallway, and you’ll buy yourself at least 40 minutes. Not sure what test someone was trying to get out of when the alarm was pulled during lunch one day, but c’est la vie.

It got so bad that the school even changed their fire alarm policy. If the alarm went off, students were to stay inside until administrators announced on the loudspeaker if they should actually evacuate. Good thing there wasn’t an actual fire, or we might all have burned to death while waiting for confirmation.

We also got the pleasure of being the last Cal students to participate in the swim unit and the beyond-dreaded 12 minute swim test. Some of us had the even greater pleasure of plunging into the cold water during A period at 7:30 a.m. The constant threat of having to make-up a swim day during finals week kept everyone from ditching, and to be honest the pool is probably the best place to be during a fire, so no luck with the alarms. Nevertheless, the younger classes will never be able to experience this enjoyment, as the swim unit was scrapped after 2018.

Our freshman year selves were also scarred with the National Anthem controversy, marking the first time our school was picked up by the national news. After getting banned and then subsequently unbanned a couple months later, the only lasting impact of the ordeal was a black mark on the school’s reputation.

Sophomore year (2018-19)

Homecoming that year was a bright one, and not in a good way. Although the week before was spent enjoying a decades-themed spirit week, the dance ended in disappointment. After a barrier guarding the DJ ended up injuring a student, the lights came on and suddenly yiking among hundreds of sweaty teenagers didn’t seem so fun anymore.

Fire season hit us especially hard in 2018, with school being cancelled because of smokey air conditions for the first time since 2002. With the “smoke day” (see, who needs snow days) falling just before Thanksgiving break, most students enjoyed the extra day off. 

Our sophomore year was also plagued with multiple threats of gun violence on campus, along with multiple incidents of blatantly racist graffiti and actions. In fact, on May 9, 2019, 80 percent of the school was absent due to three consecutive shooting threats made toward students. The campus felt like a ghost town, with police on patrol and only a few hundred uneasy students roaming the halls. This made the news too, if anyone was wondering.

Some other highlights: 2019 was the last year of the annual powderpuff game, with the seniors taking the win of course. San Ramon saw the smallest of snowstorms (no snow day here unfortunately), teachers staged a walk-out at lunch, and we said hello and goodbye to the eight-month reign of Christopher George, our second (of three) principals who is now at the district office.

Junior year (2019-20)

Rest in Peace to Homecoming guest passes, which became a thing of the past after the previous year’s brightness incident. Guests would still be allowed at prom and ball later that year, unless a deadly pandemic came along cancelling those events. But what are the odds of that?

Something else no one was expecting to see was a student adorning a gorilla suit prancing around the courtyard, but we got to enjoy that spectacle. Speaking of spectacles, but in a less positive and more scarring way, remember that one rally where two students licked opposite sides of the same plastic panel? But hey, at least the national anthem was played.

As spring arrived, and with it long-awaited events such as prom within sight, COVID-19 took the world by storm. An extra two to three weeks for spring break sounded great right? Wrong. We spent the rest of the school year behind computer screens in our own homes, as a deadly virus was rampaging around us. Teachers tried to figure out this newfangled “Zoom” as masks became a necessity and we all wondered what our senior year would look like in the fall.

Oh, our new – and longest serving – principal in five years, Megan Keefer, was hired early in the school year and the Class of 2020 graduated over Zoom.

Senior year (2020-21)

The year we had all been waiting for started with many of our first social events in months. Many of us painfully rose from our beds at 4:30 a.m. to get to senior sunrise, where we were promptly turned away by San Ramon police officers. Something about wanting to “avoid large gatherings” apparently. But never fear, we were teenagers who could barely see through our quarantine haircuts (or lack thereof), and we weren’t going to let that stop us. Now we can all be thankful for that random hill across the street.

We then were ready to go to school, so naturally, we drove right back home. For the next several months, our lives were immersed in college apps, Google Classroom deadlines, Zoom links, breakout rooms, and “Can you please turn your cameras on?”

This mundane daily schedule was broken in February, when our saving grace came: assassins. A game that seemed perfect for COVID since it’s made for being socially distanced and wearing masks. There was one small problem, however. No one had any reason to leave their house anymore. So, we all got used to Sunday “duels,” and finished the (probably rigged, but you didn’t hear it here) game within a few weeks. 

March was a real turning point, when some of us were able to return to school and assert our dominance as seniors for the first time. Going back was definitely weird, seeing all the masked faces that we were used to seeing through a computer screen. But with the music playing during breaks and games sprawled across the quad, Cal seemed more like resort living than a place for education. 

And nothing could have prepared us for the FREE LUNCHES that started to be so graciously handed out. School lunch has never tasted so good, even if the chicken is undercooked and soggy.

And now, as we finish up the year finally getting a dance to make up for prom (sort of) and a real, in-person, graduation (take that Class of 2020), there’s so much to look back on. 

All jokes aside, the last four years have been something we will all never forget.