Graduating Bethel High School senior Emily Brock earned the title of valedictorian and though it was hard for her to miss the last semester of her senior year, she appreciates her family, friends and teachers for helping her power through.
The 18-year-old said while her senior year wasn't what she expected, one of her greatest accomplishments was becoming a valedictorian.
"It feels so rewarding to make my family proud. I’ve worked really hard the last four years to achieve this," Brock said. "The opportunity to address my class and say goodbye is exciting although I’m sure I’ll be nervous when that day comes."
According to the graduate, it was disappointing not being able to celebrate her senior year, but she was happy to see how quickly and well the district responded to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Not getting the senior year I always dreamed of was definitely heartbreaking. I was really frustrated at first because we were facing a problem that I couldn’t solve, but after a while I got to see how dedicated my school was to making the best out of it and I realized how lucky I am to be a part of this amazing community," Brock said.
For Brock, she said the most challenging aspect of her last semester was being away from her friends and teachers.
"Not having personal contact was the hardest. I couldn’t hug my friends on a bad day or have thorough class discussion when I was trying to comprehend a piece of material," Brock said. "It’s just not the same doing everything through a screen."
She and her fellow seniors had their graduation on the school's original date, but at a church and it was featured on Facebook Live for family and friends.
Brock said parents of the class of 2020 have planned a small gathering for the graduates later this summer and though it will be small, Brock said she and her classmates are excited.
While her last semester wasn't what she thought, Brock said the first semester of her senior year was everything she wanted.
"Senior year was a blast. My classmates spent a lot of time together knowing that the end was near. We went to all the football and basketball games and all out for homecoming," Brock said. "I was also Oklahoma’s District 9 Student Council President which was an amazing experience."
Overall, Brock said she's grateful to her friends and loved ones for making her senior year as positive as possible.
"I am so grateful for my family, friend group and school. It’s comforting to feel so supported and loved during this time," Brock said.
After graduation, Brock said she plans on attending Oklahoma Baptist University and majoring in communications.