Advice from the Class 2020 GNA President

Former GNA class president Gabriella Proleika offers advice to the graduating class


Gabby shows her Penn State pride at the football stadium.

In the autumn of 2019, the GNA class of 2020 entered high school as seniors with high hopes and eagerness to create lasting memories before saying farewell to their classmates and teachers.

As these seniors were settling into their desks and recording their last first day in high school, they were completely unaware of what would occur only a few months later. Gabriella Proleika, the 2020 GNA Class President told us, “Senior year was going great! I think everyone was excited to be experiencing their final year together as a class.”

The class was able to enjoy the regular high school events such as the semi-formal dance, the senior Halloween performance, the homecoming football game, and dance. Gabby reflects on the beginning of her senior year by stating, “Experiencing most of those crucial moments of senior year before the closure definitely made a difference.”

In March of 2020, the Greater Nanticoke Area High School was forced to close down its in-person classes due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Teachers were told to prepare only 2 weeks’ worth of assignments for students to take home with them that Friday. There were rumors around the halls and many students speculated about the possibility of a school closure. The last day of school felt surreal for most and for Gabby she remembered it in detail. “The day school closed I just remember crying. As stupid as it may sound for some, I actually enjoyed school and seeing my friends and teachers every day,” she told us.

For what was simply supposed to be a two-week break, schools across the world were told to stay closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, in guidance of the CDC and WHO recommendations. “After hearing the final verdict that we were not coming back to GNA to finish off our year, my friends and I all drove to the LCCC parking lot, parked our cars in a socially distanced circle, and just expressed to each other how upset we were that we would not be going back. That is honestly a day that I don’t think I will forget.”

At the conclusion of the year, the Class of 2020 received a very different graduation experience. It was very important that their class receive a proper graduation, and the administration allowed an outdoor ceremony with safety procedures in place to follow the COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings. “The biggest difference for me to deal with, though, is that my brother actually wasn’t allowed to come inside of the football stadium to see the ceremony and my speech,” Gabby tells us.

Although their year ended abruptly, the graduation ceremony was held on the most beautiful day and the weather helped lift the spirits of the attendees. Gabby enjoyed her time and said, “I really loved having it outside; it was a beautiful sunny day, no clouds in the sky, and everyone was so happy to be reunited with their friends for the last hurrah.”

Post-graduation, Gabby Proleika pursued her education and is currently attending Penn State University to major in Veterinary and Biomedical Science.

While she was transitioning to college, she felt unprepared and scared. She tells us, “I know that’s usually how it goes, but making this huge transition while in the middle of a pandemic was something I never imagined that I would go through.”

Her freshmen year was difficult due to online classes and limited interactions with her teachers and new friends. “Personally, I have a very hard time with online learning and that was what my first two semesters of college were. I only had one in-person class instead of the 7 that I should have been in. It was definitely challenging getting to know others in my classes, finding study groups, and just making new friends without having that personal connection.”

As an honorable Nanticoke graduate who entered college during this pandemic, Gabby Proleika offers her advice to the Class of 2021.

  1. Find time to do what makes you happy. If there’s one big thing that I have learned in the past year, it’s that I needed to be making more time to do what I liked. Explore new hobbies, go out of your comfort zone, make new friends, anything! Find something that can make you happy.
  2. I cannot stress this enough, PLEASE pay attention in your zoom classes. I know courses can get really tough online, and I have really struggled with that myself, but going out of your way to find resources will make it just that much easier. 
  3. Be kind to yourself. During this past year, I have seen many people go through some of the highest and lowest points in their lives and it’s tough. Everyone is going through this and it’s not uncommon to see many people having times where they are struggling. Just know that trying your best is what will get you through it. Push yourself to become a better person, don’t overwork yourself to the point where you are just unhappy. Be there for others and show compassion, because everyone deserves kindness- especially in times like these.