By: Caroline Smelko
Around seven months ago when I started my senior year, I never would have imagined an ending quite like the one I have been given. Growing up and watching the classes before me, I have always looked forward to everything that senior year has to offer, including senior prom, the class trip, baccalaureate, the final walk through, and graduation. These events and more are experiences that seniors look forward to as a way to end the high school chapter of their lives and more forward into their futures. However, the graduating class of 2020 has been stripped of these experiences as a result of COVID-19 and the social distancing guidelines.
While understanding that these guidelines and other restrictions had to be put in place to ensure the safety of the community, it does not make the situation any easier or hurt any less. Many of my fellow seniors including Thomas Bablak, Grace Wortman, Lindsay Finch, Dakota Chase, and Gage Hendrickson have said that they were looking forward to making more memories with the friends that they’ve grown up with. These memories could have been made during a final sports season, at prom, on a senior trip, while conducting a mock crash, and even at the graduation ceremony. Others, such as Marissa Grubbs, said she was looking forward to saying goodbye to everyone, while Rachel Frederick was most looking forward to experiencing the final lasts, including the last real high school finals week. I must admit I’m not too sad about missing out on finals, but I’m devastated that I don’t get the chance to make as many memories with my best friends or experience what the classes before me had.
It’s easy to focus on what we’re missing out on as senior year comes to an end, but we’re trying to focus on the memories we’ve had the chance to share before our school year came to an end. Some of the fondest memories that were made were from the homecoming dance, talking to teachers, Friday night football games, and various sports seasons. This year especially was a great year for fall and winter sports, with many accomplishments and playoff appearances around the county. It’s so sad and unfortunate that spring sports seasons were cut short, especially for those athletes who solely participate in a spring sport. After talking to my fellow seniors, it was clear that one great thing about the year we’ve had so far was getting to be around, and make our own personal memories with the friends whom we’ve grown up alongside and have been there for so many years. Bablak commented that they were “having the time of our lives.” Although I may not get the chance to make too many more memories with my classmates, I’m so grateful for the ones I have, and I know I’ll cherish them forever.
With the abrupt ending to a 12-yearlong journey, I’m so glad that I had the high school experience that I did. It’s so easy to complain and constantly say you’re ready to graduate now, especially when senioritis kicks in and the school year winds down. However, for our class, the school year never really wound down, it just ended. We never had the opportunity to soak it all in one last time, never got to walk through the halls and reminisce on memories and accomplishments made within the walls of our high school, never got to say final goodbyes to underclassman whom we’ve grown to love, never got the chance to properly thank the teachers and faculty for helping us along the way, and, sadly, will probably never walk across that graduation stage in front of our family and friends to receive the diplomas we’ve all worked so hard for. Some may feel that they took their time in high school for granted, and Grubbs advises people that, “This has shown that the things you love can be taken away from you at any minute. Cherish it while it’s there.” I could not agree more; I was not ready for high school to just be over.
To some people, these events and experiences may not seem that important when it comes to what future experiences will bring. However, to a high school senior at this time, it’s what we’ve looked forward to for the past 12 years; it makes all of our hard work worth it; it’s supposed to be one of the best and most memorable times of our lives. Of course, these circumstances make it very memorable, but not in the way any of us could have imagined. It breaks my heart that I may have walked the halls of Eisenhower High School, a place filled with so many memories, a place that brought me some of the best of friends, and a place filled with so many amazing and supportive teachers, for the last time and never even knew it.
This unexpected ending to our long journey is not ideal and definitely emotional, but we are still able to make memories with our best friends. One great thing about technology is that you can Facetime or video call with your friends. These conversations are not the same as hanging out and talking in person, but for now it is all we have. So, I encourage all students to stay in touch with their friends whether it be on Facetime, Zoom, Instagram, Snapchat, or some other form of communication; this way memories can still be made with our friends and families. And, when all this is over, hopefully everyone has the chance to live out the remainder of their summers the way they had planned, making memories with their best friends before we all part our separate ways come fall.