COVID-19 is decidedly the WORST addition to the class of 2020’s senior year of high school. Just to be clear I am aware there are horrendous things befalling the lives of many across the globe due to the coronavirus, however I would be amiss to suggest anyone’s reality had the power to fully invalidate someone else’s feelings.
Pain is not a competition and Generation Z is not whiny. Rather this is the first interaction my digitally native generation has had with the bonding of an entire nation in what are some impressively unsettling times.
That being said, I would like to let my fellow high school seniors know that I see us. This year was supposed to bring us closure. However for many, it instead brought coronavirus cancellations. While Vermillion High School (VHS) as of right now, has only canceled events through April 10, many high schools across the nation are closing their doors for the rest of the semester. That means no prom, no spring sports and even the thing we’ve been working towards for twelve out of our eighteen years of life, no graduation ceremonies.
I personally have been thinking about walking across the stage to collect my hard-earned diploma for what feels like my entire life. From the orange dress I plan to wear to my decorated cap, to the jokes and stories I have been making a mental note to shout-out in my commencement speech for the last four years.
If South Dakota were to follow the example of states like Ohio and California that have moved their public schools online for the remainder of the semester, I wouldn’t get to walk across the stage as the first in my class and in my familial generation. I wouldn’t stand a chance in winning the, extremely real yet unspoken, contest of whose family screams the loudest at the calling of their students name.
I am not giving up on the high hopes I applied to 2020 as the year I would graduate high school and vote in a major election, two things women of color really ought to receive more support in. I wanted and still wish, my niece to get excited for kindergarten this fall, when she saw her aunt draped in her red gown celebrating the end of her secondary education.
However the potentially fatal reality of infection that would come from gathering in large groups, like the ones that inhabit the halls of high schools, is all too prevalent. While I’m willing to face these dangers for my education, I feel it’s not my place to request that same stubbornness from the general population.
My senior class is at risk of not getting closure; we captioned our posts “last time, best time,” over and over again whether it was homecoming, cheer, basketball, marching band, or State Oral Interpretation. But, I don’t believe any of us expected our official ‘last time’ to come in March instead of May.
We all thought we would have a chance to talk to those at-school friends, eat lunch at the same table with the same people, support our spring-sport athletes, flex our stunning outfits at our final prom and tie any loose going-to-college strings. While VHS students are still believing in our chance to do at least some of those things, COVID-19 has cast a rather bleak light over our spring semester.
Nevertheless, we are the class of 2020, the ‘visionaries,’ and COVID-19 will not cancel our ability to succeed.