ELC Valedictorian: Together we’ll overcome adversity


I'm using my column space to allow our local high school seniors to express what this journey has been like for them, finishing senior year virtually, and with sports and activities cancelled.

Estherville Lincoln Central Valedictorian Lena McCoy said her senior year up until school was cancelled, the first time as of March 16, was as good as it could possibly be.

"I had success both in sports and in the fine arts," Lena said. Lena had a lead in the fall theater production of "Donavan's Daughters" as the matriarch of the stage opposite Justin Christensen. An alto in choir, Lena has been a favorite soloist at concerts going back at least to the eighth grade, when she received wild applause covering Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself," then representing the music department in various competitions and honor choirs, culminating in serving as MC for the music department's pops concert in March, just before everything shut down, and presenting her solo musical theater act for what turned to be the final time.

Lena, known more broadly in the community for her athleticism in volleyball, track and softball at ELC, as well as martial arts, didn't get involved in theater and speech until her junior year.

"I really got to know my teachers and classmates in speech and theater. I'm really, really glad I got involved - to the point I don't think I would have had as great an experience in high school if I didn't do that. It gave me lots of opportunities," Lena said.

The things Lena has looked forward to all through high school ended in the series of announcements that cancelled a lot of dreams.

"The night they cancelled state individual speech events was crushing, because one of my goals was to go to all-state speech two years in a row," Lena said.

Then spring sports were cancelled by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

"When track was cancelled, that was tough because I had looked forward to being with my teammates all year. Now we don't know if even softball will happen, and that's one of my favorite sports," Lena said.

Lena is signed to play softball for Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, South Dakota next year.

"The coaches have been reaching out to us. We've had Zoom meetings. The admissions counselors got me registered for classes. It just seems like I'm moving on already," Lena said.

Lena is taking dual credit college classes already.

"I have a lot of homework," Lena said.

Lena tries to keep to a schedule, taking advantage of nice days to go for walks at a proper social distance with a friend at Ft. Defiance, to go for runs, and to go turkey hunting. Lena said she does keep in touch with her friends through social media and FaceTime.

"It's all we can do. And this situation is so hard, but there's nothing we can do about it," Lena said.

It was clear these were tough times for Lena, and there was a sense that she was saddened not only for what she was missing, but for her friends and classmates, too.

As valedictorian, Lena is working with school officials and others on a way to present her speech as well as those of the other commencement speakers to her classmates and the greater community, whatever that would look like. Lena wanted to say to her community, "I just think in tough times we'll come together and we'll pull each other through to overcome this adversity. It's great being from a smaller community where everyone knows everyone, because you can easily reach out to someone and they'll be more than willing to help you."


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here