Meet Ventura County’s class of 2021

This year, a common line in student graduation speeches across Ventura County reflected on the

This year, a common line in student graduation speeches across Ventura County reflected on the sheer chaos that was the last four years of high school for the class of 2021. 

In 2017, the Thomas Fire — one of the largest wildfires in modern California history — raged through Santa Barbara and Ventura counties during their freshman year. Just a year later during sophomore year, there was no respite as the Woolsey Fire raged through parts of east Ventura County and Los Angeles County. 

While there were smaller fires like Easy Fire in Simi Valley and Maria Fire in Santa Paula in 2019, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that completely upended the second half of junior year in early 2020.

And like seniors of years past, this graduating class has dealt with insecurity, stress, late nights spent studying and finishing homework and more day-to-day worries.  

It was only in the last few weeks for most students – more than a year after the pandemic first shut down schools – that they got to come back to campus and see their peers and teachers, a last chance of sorts as they prepare to enter the next phase of their lives.

“Meet Ventura County’s class of 2021” is a project aimed at introducing just a few of the thousands of local seniors who are more than graduates of the pandemic era. The Star asked nearly every high school in the county to nominate a senior to represent their school.

The students were nominated for a variety of reasons. One student was selected by her class to represent her school, others are valedictorians in addition to participating in a multitude of extracurriculars. Some seniors selected have made a huge turnaround in their high school careers, from struggling at the beginning to achieving academic success in their senior years. 

While we didn’t get a response from every high school or student, we spoke to 38 students in total.