As "Senior Year" opens, we meet JEN, a girl at odds with herself, her life, and her school. A perennial outsider, she is never comfortable with her classmates-and she's baffled by the crazy bureaucracy of school registration.
JEAN and MARIA are in love. He's Latino, she's white. They plan to get married and dream of attending the Chicago Art Institute. Jean is a graffiti artist who has been caught by the police several times and faces jail if he's caught again. They have an active, joyous sexual relationship, but Jean is finding himself more and more conflicted with his Catholic faith-and they decide on their one year anniversary to abstain from sex until they "get married or break up."
DERARD is a star football player with high hopes for a football scholarship to college. He used to go to school in South Central L.A., but a football player had been killed the year before by a gang. So he came to Fairfax -- but he didn't realize that Fairfax is starting the season with a three year losing streak and is the laughing stock of the league -- not a promising situation for college scouts. When they lose big in their first pre-season game, his future starts looking grim.
When we meet KENDRA she's riding the disabled students school bus to Fairfax -- a journey that takes two hours. Her speech is difficult to understand, and she walks with a severe limp. At school, a teacher condescendingly tells her she should go to a certain college because it has an "excellent disabilities program." Kendra has thought about that school, but because of the academics, not its disabilities program.
A month after their senior year begins, Jean's dad, who was increasingly depressed after losing his job as a tailor, attempts suicide by stabbing himself in front of his wife during an argument -- and Senior Year takes a disturbing turn for Jean.