SENIORS SHUFFLE THROUGH COVID STRUGGLE
I step out of the car, excited for my first day of school back at Greenway High School. I can’t wait to see all of my friends again and be able to interact with them after the summer break. Today is the first day of my senior year of high school, the best year for any high schooler. I step onto campus with my new-found seniority and confidence that comes with being a senior. This year is my time to shine, my time to be the best Conner Valerio I can. As I make my way towards the courtyard, I notice there is no one on campus and eventually make it to my first class. As the bell begins to ring, the world begins to fade all around me. I wake up and realize that I am going to be late for my first day of senior year on WebEx, secluded in my bedroom and away from the world.
For many seniors, this is the reality of their final school year in high school. Many of them are beginning to mourn about their Senior year being taken away from them and the many negative effects. Though the first semester has passed for many seniors without any major events happening, many Seniors are hopeful that the second semester will allow for hybrid learning or even a normal graduation at the end of the year.
At the start of 2020, the year of possibilities, many people believed that the CoronaVirus situation would be resolved before the start of the next school year, yet like many schools, Greenway High School began the new year on WebEx and has mostly stayed on it since. Before all of this started, many graduates of 2021 were looking forward to finishing their high school career strong. Senior Shayla Doyle said that she would describe the senior year, before the whole virus situation, as new. She was excited for her senior year of school. Like Doyle, many seniors feel as though their best year of high school has been taken away.
¨Before the virus, I would have said that I was excited for our senior year,¨ Senior Annika Olsen said. ¨I thought that I was going to have a fun year with my friends while I was looking for colleges, and finishing up high school.¨
Not being in school not only causes seniors to feel robbed, but it makes many like Olsen to face the reality that they may not have closure on certain things such as friendships, activities, and most importantly graduation. How could something as precious as senior year go away in an instant? It is these types of questions many seniors are beginning to ask themselves and dread. Something no one thought would have to cross their minds with the end of one´s high school career.
Though the seniors’ time at Greenway is experiencing troubles, there are many people who believe seniors are not the only ones experiencing troubles during these times. When asked about whether seniors are the only ones suffering this time, the AP Literature teacher had answered this. Mrs. Walp said, ¨No, everyone is experiencing difficulties and missed opportunities during this pandemic. Freshmen do not have the opportunity to meet new people, athletes do not have the opportunity to play sports, and clubs cannot meet.¨ This time has made a lot of students at Greenway feel as though they aren´t able to continue on with online learning, yet there are some students who feel as though this time has presented them with opportunities.
Senior Abigail Grace said that she would use the new form of senior year to be more focused on her grades and studies, in order to receive better grades. She feels as a senior, she needs to prioritize her grades over anything else. Of course, during this time, many seniors are grateful to improve their grades and be able to work more often. Although many seniors can agree with this statement, some underclassmen would state this time has allowed for positive events to happen. Along with Grace, Freshman Renee Sanchez-Covarrubias said that there are a lot of positives for the school year because her grades were really bad when in person, but they were able to improve when starting online learning. She also said that some seniors would agree with her line of reasoning, but she truly doesn´t know since everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Both ladies help show that even during this time of quarantine people can make the most of their experiences.
According to Hallie Miller´s article,¨Lost proms, virtual graduations, abrupt goodbyes: Life as a Maryland high school senior during Coronavirus,¨ Experts in teen psychology said the ways U.S. teenagers mark the end of childhood usually coalesce toward the end of high school — with proms, final sports games, senior trips and, ultimately, graduation. Because of the virus, many seniors feel a sense of regret for taking their high school career for granted. Senior Anika Kamat said, ¨I haven’t been able to hang out with my best friends just because of the high rise in cases we’re not able to hang out as much, and that is one thing that I miss because I love my friends so much and I miss hanging out with them more than anything it is one of the things I look forward to.¨ Besides not being able to see friends, she feels as though she has been very accomplished throughout her high school career. A senior year in high school is something that truly always for the transition from childhood to adulthood to happen. For something so great to be taken away isn´t fair for the student and especially the families of Seniors who have to see their child lose hope rather than be excited for adulthood and growing up.
Although this year has presented seniors with many trials and difficulties, it is important to remember that they are not alone at this time. Many Greenway seniors are dealing with the fear of losing their last year in high school, but it is important to remember that there are so many other things to focus on. Instead of focusing on what could have happened during the first part of the school year, seniors should be optimistic about the possibilities of the second semester. All seniors can do is hope for the best and be optimistic. They might have not had a homecoming or been able to their friends in sports, but there is still a chance to have winter/spring sports, a prom, and most importantly a graduation.
Though my mornings still start by going to my desk and logging into WebEx, I have hope that things will get better next year. As Seniors, it is hard to accept that our year isn´t going to be normal. It is hard to accept that our high school experience will never truly be complete, but I know that this will help all of us in the future. Right now it may be dangerous to step onto campus, but in a month or so I can imagine myself walking up the stairs and then across the stage in my cap and gown, ready to accept my diploma. The diploma that proves that I was able to graduate high school during a global pandemic. Now, how awesome would it be to tell that story to your future kids? The graduating class of 2021 has to have hope for the best outcome to be possible.