A Night at the Movies for MHS Seniors

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Malibu High School seniors watch a funny video featuring teachers and staff before the main event at the Saturday, April 17, senior night drive-in: a screening of “Ferris Buehler’s Day Off” at the Chili Cook-Off site.

Malibu High School seniors were treated to a much deserved diversion Saturday night—a drive-in movie. The screening of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” a comedy about the coolest teenager playing hooky, was the perfect feel-good movie for a senior class that’s been confined to home with distance learning for more than a year.

Even though in-person learning is scheduled to resume April 26, this year’s senior class was unable to experience cherished high school rituals including homecoming, prom and even the experience of walking the campus as top-dog upperclassmen. Even graduation and grad night plans are up in the air due to the volatility of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sam Palmer, MHS senior class president, admitted, “It’s been a year of obstacles. 

“It was a big adjustment—even difficult keeping up school spirit because we’ve been away from each other,” Palmer continued. “Though, as our senior year comes to an end, I think our class will be even closer than it was before. Students are over the moon that we get to start doing senior activities.”

The 2021 class has only had a few socially distanced events, including a hike.  

“It’s exciting to share a moment of watching a movie together,” Palmer shared. 

Even a socially distanced movie experience was better than Zoom classes, which Palmer explained “were the most challenging part of being a student during the pandemic. It’s difficult showing up to class every morning from your house. Seeing classmates through a screen is awkward, too. It’s hard to focus and stay motivated.”

Connie Jenkins, a parent and co-chair of the MHS Grad Committee, assured COVID-19 protocol was to be followed at the drive-in along with making it as fun as possible, handing out prepackaged candy and burritos from Howdy’s Café. 

Before the event at the Chili Cook-Off site, teachers delivered celebratory yard signs to all 147 seniors. 

Jenkins pointed out the 2021 MHS class has spent the least amount of time on campus. 

“They finished their freshman year and then in their sophomore year the Woolsey Fire happened and school was closed for several months, and then on and off with weather events and power outages. Then in March of their junior year, we got shut down due to COVID-19 and they didn’t have a senior year. They’re the only class to have only spent one complete year during their time at Malibu High.” Jenkins stated that is her motivation to “do as much as we can to give them some semblance of a senior year experience. Without homecoming and prom, they don’t have all the socializing events.” Jenkins seemed impassioned, recalling students’ isolated year—applying for colleges at home, not collaborating with classmates and Zooming from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. daily. 

Still, the parent praised the students.

“They’re a resilient class. We’re proud of them. They’re in good spirits,” she said. “They’re excited about all these events.” Monthly, the parent group has tried to rally spirits by distributing candy grams and making surprise appearances with a giant cutout photo of MHS Principal Patrick Miller.

Miller expressed his thanks to parents and the community who “have rallied to do these events.”

“That is the real Malibu,” Miller said. “It is a family friendly, small, close knit community who always find a way to ensure our kids have a really great childhood. The upcoming graduation is that transition point to independence and adulthood. We are excited to see what these students go on and do. They are going to do great things.”

Miller praised the class, saying that they haven’t complained as hurdle after hurdle has been placed in their path.

“Four years ago, I handed promotion certificates to this class and, at that time, described this group as motivated, respectful, considerate and one of the most tight-knit groups that I can remember going through MHS. I still feel that way about this group. They continue to display a strong team, a family like dynamic where they support and encourage each other while striving for high expectations for themselves and each other. My biggest frustration to date this year is not having their leadership and example on campus all year as a model for the other students in grades six-11 to emulate.”

In May, a “2021 and done” senior event is planned at Malibu Café. In June, a senior parade at Zuma Beach at sunset will celebrate finishing finals.

Interested community members may also help sponsor senior events. Email mhs2021parents@gmail.com to pitch in if interested.

Donations can also be sent through Venmo to @mhs2021parents or Paypal to mhs2021parents@gmail.com.