May Day account helps provide closure


Despite not being at school for the traditional May Day, seniors are receiving the recognition through the New Trier May Day Instagram account.
It allows seniors to send a photo, their future plans, and major and minor if they have decided yet, all of which is posted in the account, run by senior Kayla Okninski.
The account, with more than 1,300 followers and over 500 posts so far, is a way for seniors to connect with their fellow classmates while apart. Okninski created this account in April after realizing that her class would be unable to celebrate this special moment together. She had found a similar post honoring a senior and she knew that she had to step into action.
“I honestly am not exactly sure how I got inspired specifically, but I remember on my Instagram explore page I saw a mom post a tribute to their senior daughter and it was a really cute post,” said Okninski.
Okninski made a draft post and sent it to her friends. After receiving positive reactions, she decided to create the account. It started off slowly but with the help of some friends, she was able to reach more and more seniors.
“I was so nervous about it and kept forcing all my friends to send me their information so it didn’t look that empty because it started off kind of slow. But after I asked a green team captain to post my account on their page, I woke up to 70 DMs,” said Okninski.
After this flood of demand, Okninski got to work. She created multiple posts per hour. With all the free time she had while in quarantine, Okininski didn’t feel overwhelmed instead she was grateful that it had given her something to do.

‘I think after having so many things taken away so fast, anything that gives seniors a chance at something normal really helps’

— Kayla Okninski

“At this point, I have a system to make them quickly, and it gives me something fun to do every day,” said Okninski.
This concept has become similarly popular at many neighboring schools like Loyola Academy and Evanston. But the big difference is that Okninski has partnered with a New Trier parent to sell yard signs that mimic the posts.
These have become a popular way to display where students plan to go.
Since the account has grown, Okninski has seen many of her peers get the recognition they deserve. After four years, their hard work has paid off and this account helps give them closure.
“For me, I’ve gotten a sense of closure seeing kids I’ve known or passed in the hall since freshman year, and even earlier, off to do amazing things,” said Okninski.
The account is only open to New Trier seniors but is not connected to the school. Still, Okninski applauds the work that the school has done to help students cope with not finishing their senior year together.
“I also think that coaches are putting an immense effort to recognize their seniors with online banquets, senior nights, etc. I know a lot of seniors really, really appreciate all efforts from New Trier teachers, coaches, etc. to honor their hard work,” said Okninski.
May Day is a day many look forward to because it provides closure to the school year and connects the senior class in celebrating their achievements.
“I think after having so many things taken away so fast, anything that gives seniors a chance at something normal really helps,” said Okninski. “I hope the account brings some sort of normalcy to everyone’s lives during a time like this and honors a tradition we were all looking forward to.”
Although spending a fourth of their senior year in remote learning and not being able to spend their last day of high school together, this year’s senior class is making the best of it.
“Overall, I think it shows how the class of 2020 has been able to grow stronger as a community despite any challenges they’ve encountered,” said Okninski.