Current seniors will remember their last year of high school forever—but not because of senior ball or the graduation ceremony. With school closing in March, many seniors were shocked to learn that such an ordinary day would be their last of high school.
“I never thought that that friday would be my last at this school,” said senior Ezra Silverburg. “It was like any other Friday. I took tests in most of my classes and hung out with friends as usual.” Ezra is like many of the approximately 3.7 million high school seniors around the country missing out on important senior year activities. Born around the September 11 attacks, seniors now experience a somber ending to what should be their year.
For some, college isn’t their path—and this was their last opportunity to be with each other and experience some of their favorite activities. Throughout the years, so much hard work has been put in, waiting to be recognized at graduation, a day that may never come.
“I started embracing my last semester of school,” said senior Eddie Fonseca. “I was planning on becoming a general contractor right after school and because I wouldn’t have another experience like this like in college, this year meant a lot to me.”
In addition to missing out on big milestones of their life, the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased teens’ social life and school work to FaceTime calls and Zoom meetings. Calif. State superintendent Tony Thurmond and gov. Gavin Newsom declared school campuses shut down on Apr. 21.
It’s a difficult time for seniors who are starting to realize that they might never come back to school and walk in the hallways unless to pick up textbooks and other essential supplies. Lacking the ability to say goodbye to close friends and teachers, everything has been put on hold—signaling high schools to cancel beloved events for teens.
“I totally understand why they are doing this,” said senior Thomas Doud. “It’s important to keep everyone healthy, but I’m still sad that I can’t see my friends or hang out with them at ball.” There’s simple moments that these teens will not get back: walking the hallways as a senior, the senior prank, the last opportunity to sign yearbooks with friends, senior sunset, school rallies, awards night, grad night and even a formal graduation with the opportunity to take pictures with your friends that you’ve known for four years or longer.
“It’s really disappointing,” said senior Natalie Link. “Graduation is such a big milestone in your life, and it is the last opportunity to take pictures with your friends before they all go their different paths.” While plans for graduation are still uncertain, many seniors joke that they will pick up their diploma drive-thru style.
Although humor helps students cope with the crazy year, seniors ultimately feel disappointed and confused, as they will never forget this year. For student-athletes, this year has become even more troubling. With the season being practically over before it even started, seniors miss out on their last opportunity to compete and earn college recognition.
“I was planning on playing baseball for UC Davis,” said senior Mateo Lake. “I didn’t play enough games because the season ended early and my spot got forfeited.” Mateo plans on attending Sacramento City College and has committed to play baseball there until he can transfer and play elsewhere. Other seniors are disappointed that they wont be recognized on senior night, a ceremony recognizing the hard work the athletes have put in over the years. They have been watching seniors at this ceremony from prior years, and now it was supposed to be their time to be recognized.
Although a somber ending for seniors, the pandemic has proved lessons that can’t be taught in a classroom.
“This crisis has shown me things that I’ve overlooked,” said Natalie. “It shows me what and who I value the most in life.”