As writers and journalists, we all fancy ourselves to be storytellers.

Those stories come down different avenues – maybe it’s a story about a government meeting, a crime occurring, a feel good story about a good deed done or many other stories that we find ourselves telling each day.

For me, the avenue of telling a story usually comes in the sports world. It’s a game occurring, a new coach being hired or an athlete accomplishing a piece of success.

During the last three months, though, I have had the opportunity to tell more stories than just sports, which has been one of the positives during a time that it’s sometimes hard to find them.

One of the goals we have is to keep spotlighting the class of 2020, and that’s been in both our news and sports sections. In the sports section, I have started a “senior spotlight” for spring sports athletes who lost their seasons (to nominate one, email me at the address listed at the end), and in the news section, we have had many ways to feature the senior class.

One story I worked on last week involved seniors who were going to unique colleges outside of the ones we usually see everyone attending, and that brought stories from kids who were doing everything from going to school for theatre or marine biology or having high goals with their military careers. I have also been checking in with a group of seniors for another upcoming story, and it’s been exciting hearing their plans for the future.

I spend years on sidelines and in dugouts with our high school athletes, and some of them I get to know pretty well, but these last few months have reminded me that there is still a lot left to learn about each and every one of you.

For example, I see Kylie Faulkner from Smithville on the basketball court all the time and on the sidelines at football games as a cheerleader, but I had no clue that she wanted to major in marine biology, or Lauren Mitchell from Hatley as well, and that her dream was to attend the University of Hawaii.

I enjoyed hearing about Kelby Horne from Smithville’s plans for her acting career because theatre was also my first love, and I learned that she and I both got started in acting with the same play (many years apart and one of us in Tupelo and the other in Corinth!).

This pandemic has separated all of us physically, but in ways, it has also brought us closer together at times. It’s made us discover more about each other and about ourselves, and it’s taught us to appreciate our relationships.

I can remember the last couple of months of my senior year and how my class, not very close at all at the beginning of the year, started to connect more during that time. I learned things about my classmates during that time that I had never known before in the 13 years that we had walked the halls together, and I hate that this year’s seniors didn’t get those final moments or last chances to connect.

I pray for better times for next year’s senior class and all the classes that follow them, but I also hope that this is an eye opening experience too for those groups.

Get to know your classmates. Learn their stories. You never know when the day will come when you don’t have that opportunity because this year, it came sooner than plenty would want or think.

Melissa Meador is the Sports Editor of the Monroe Journal. Contact her at melissa.meador@journalinc.com or follow her on Twitter: @MelissaMeador14.

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