By: Sophia Lirio – June 26, 2020
This winter, I caught a bad case of senioritis. Like many of my high school class of 2020, I was ready to leave the classrooms and head into my final high school summer: spending the day at the beach, stopping for ice cream at every opportunity, sitting around bonfires late into the night, hanging out with family, and preparing for college in the fall. A stay-at-home quarantine promptly cured my senioritis. I would have given so much to pull into our high school parking lot, walk the familiar halls full of friends and teachers, and take my seat in a classroom.
This fall, I danced the night away at Homecoming, decked myself out in camo, flannel, and patriotic clothes at football games, and finished my final cross country race at State Finals. And then, it was over. My prom dress, still unworn, hangs in my closet. Canceled grad party invites sit in my drawer. I haven’t bought my Nerf gun for our “senior assassin” tradition. I won’t pull a senior prank. Never again will I walk to the cafeteria, laughing with my friends. Or linger in the hallways for a minute too long, late to class yet again. The spring is supposed to be a meaningful time for seniors, full of celebration and tradition to close the twelve years leading up to it. Ours was taken away, cut short by the pandemic.
Even though my friends and I were excited to move on to the next step in life, we didn’t realize how much we treasured the present until it was taken away. I will always regret the wasted moments of high school: the moments I spent in Stats class wishing I was somewhere else, the times in the hallways I was tired and kept my head down, or the end of practice when I wanted to get home. Those times flew by and made up a stage of life that I will never get back. I am blessed to have attended a high school that I’m sad to leave, even if I missed out on the fun ending celebrations. Although I didn’t experience some senior traditions, I got to see my teachers and administrators pour out their care in “unprecedented” ways: a daily newscast to keep us updated, a drive-by capfest with cheering teachers, a live-streamed awards ceremony, personal emails to stay in touch, and even an outdoor, socially distanced class bonfire later in the summer. I had always expected my senior year to happen and had taken it for granted, so I was never consciously grateful for it. Having it cut short made me realize in a new way how much I treasured my senior year and all the years leading up to it. It made me realize that my high school experience flew by, and, even without the pandemic, it would have ended before I knew it. I have started to treasure moments more intentionally. I spend more time snapping photos or journaling to help me fully celebrate the present moment instead of always looking to the next thing. For this, I am grateful.
This fall is uncertain. Although the University I plan to attend has announced an on-campus fall semester, many colleges and universities will be virtual or have not yet decided. My first year will be different than I had envisioned it. Football games will not be packed. I won’t sit elbow-to-elbow with my classmates, navigating our way through our first-year classes together. In common areas, we will wear masks. With group number limitations and social distancing rules in place, it may be harder to make new friends through different clubs. My classmates and I did not choose this situation, but we get to choose how to respond to it. It was sad to have spent our senior spring in quarantine and disappointing to socially distance during our first year of college. But we get to decide how to respond, even if we didn’t choose our options. Many students are deferring their admission and taking a gap year. Others will do online classes. Many, myself included, still plan to be on campus this fall. My class is, maybe, luckier than the college class of 2020, many of whom are facing entering the workforce at record unemployment levels. We are more fortunate than COVID patients and their family members. We are more fortunate than those whose basic necessities have been disrupted by COVID. I plan to make the most of my socially distanced summer: spending extra time with my family before I leave for college and looking for ways to help those hit harder by the pandemic than I was. I plan to make the most of my fall: diving into the college experience, even though it won’t look the same.
Other Student Narratives from the Team at Relay:
- A Wild Freshman Year in College
- Reflecting on the Spring 2020 Semester – My Reaction to the Campus Closure
- How COVID-19 Affected My Junior Year in College
- Transferring and Dealing with COVID-19
- Thoughts on Heading into Junior Year of High School