Pioneer Pride in Uncertain Times: One Pioneer’s Perspective

Josephine Bryant is a member of the Stillwater High School Marching Band. The 2020-21 marching band competition season has been cancelled, but as of this writing, the band is preparing two shows to play during halftime at SHS home football games this fall. Photo by Clay Billman

Story by Josephine Bryant

What does it mean to be a pioneer? It means courage, innovation, and being willing to go past the limits to discover and create new possibilities. Now, what does it mean to be a Pioneer during a global pandemic? What does it mean to be a pioneer in the midst of a blossoming civil rights movement? That definition doesn’t change with the circumstances, it only grows. The pioneers in the health industry are finding new ways to prevent the spread and to help the sick recover. The pioneers in the Black Lives Matter Movement are inspiring people worldwide to call for an end to the injustice that minorities have faced for far too long.

These are the standards that Stillwater Public Schools has stood for over one hundred-and-twenty years. I am a member of the Stillwater High School Senior Class of 2021, and I am a Pioneer. 

The class of 2020 had it rough. I watched my big brother and my senior friends see their senior production of “Fiddler on the Roof” get canceled along with prom and all of the end of the year festivities and rewards they had looked forward to for so long. The class of 2020’s senior year was cut short and without warning. Millions of students across the globe didn’t get to walk across the stage at graduation or hear their names called in front of all their family and friends. Some had online graduations, some didn’t have anything at all. Graduation celebrations with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? Cancelled as well.

Hayden Bauter and Josephine Bryant take their bows after their performance as Alexander and Angelica Bullock in “My Man Godfrey” last November.  Drama and Tech Theater students were in the midst of rehearsals for “Fiddler on the Roof” when schools were closed in March 2020. The production was cancelled due to COVID-19 shutting down all large gatherings and closing schools in the spring. Photo by Jefferson Bryant

My friends and I have been living in agony all summer not knowing whether we will even get to attend or participate in our senior year athletic activities and performances. Will we get to have our senior night, perform together on stage in the final two drama productions, attend our senior prom, or have our last band concert after seven years of dedication and hard work? Even with all this uncertainty, I know that whatever happens, we will be able to adapt and find a way, not only to survive but to thrive. 

Stillwater High School Marching Band to the field to prepare this fall’s halftime shows in case they are able to perform. The 2020 Marching Band Competition Season has been cancelled. Photo by Jeremy Rebmann

Our city has had to adapt to all the blows this turbulent year has thrown at us, but those adaptations are what make us all pioneers. Last school year, we zoomed with friends and classmates to work on assignments, we struggled along with our teachers navigating our “new normal,” we wore (and still wear) our masks, we socially distanced, we did our best to keep ourselves and our community safe. This is what it means to be a Pioneer. Having the courage to change, to innovate new ways to learn and stay connected with others, going beyond the limits of what we thought we were capable of doing, to bring back those possibilities from only a few short months ago. 

Going into my senior year, I will be doing distance learning with the exception of my band class at the high school. I don’t know what my last year of public schooling will entail, but I know that we can handle it, and I know that I am proud to be a Pioneer.