By Eric Erickson
Frustrated. Bummed. Sad.
They are words frequently used by Como Park High School’s graduating seniors who are contemplating the end of high school.
With a global pandemic causing traditional rites of passage to be canceled, including prom and graduation, the Class of 2020 will conclude high school with a pre-recorded virtual commencement on June 1.
They are attributes of a remarkably mature and special class. In a senior year like no other, this year’s graduates spent their final months of high school isolated at home instead of interacting and making memories together.
To try and share the collective feeling and wisdom from Como Park High School’s Class of 2020, we went straight to the source. Here are thoughts and reflections from several seniors who were asked: What are you missing, and what do we know?
“I’ve come to terms mostly with missing out on graduation and prom and other events. But I’m most upset about missing the opportunity to round out the last four years of my life with people who went through it with me and helped me throughout the way! Wish I could see my peers and classmates and communicate with them face to face!
“I know that I am very privileged. This pandemic is taking away the celebrations of my senior year, not my life, not anyone’s life that’s close to me, not all of my resources. I feel blessed to be in a position where I can be unemployed for a bit. I’m very much forward focused during this time and hopeful for college next year.”
“I’m bummed out that I’m missing my senior year. Not so much prom and all that, but the little moments. You know, the feeling of accomplishment I’d get after AP tests with my whole class when we’d be done together.
“In the grand scheme of things, my loss isn’t that important. What’s important is for people to see that now is the time, more than ever, for us to band together and beat this virus.”
“I feel really frustrated about my home situation. I feel like I can’t focus on school and I am surrounded by distraction. But those distractions don’t make me happy, they are just easier to do. I miss my friends and I wish I could say goodbye to everyone like normal. We’re all going to different places and we might not be able to say a proper goodbye.
“I think this experience will humble us quite a bit and ensure that we stay serious about issues like this in the future. We won’t take for granted the epidemics in third world countries that may happen in the future because we know what it’s like to fear for the well-being of our relatives and neighbors.”
“I am just grateful that my family is in a better situation than most people in the world. The hunger is increasing and there is death every day. I am thankful for my situation and just wish most people had the same way of life.”
“I’m missing out meeting with my friends in a fixed schedule and a normal end to my school career. It almost feels like I was robbed of a once in a lifetime memory. But it’s imperative as a society that we try and help each other as much as we can, with what we can.”
“I’m missing learning in school. It’s hard for me to focus and really understand everything online. I’m sad about graduation. I feel like it’s an important rite of passage and celebration for everything we’ve worked for over four years, and ever since we started school.
“I am well aware of my privilege and fortune in this. I am grateful that my parents can both continue working and making an income from home, and I’m grateful that my family and I are healthy. All we can do is try to keep ourselves and others healthy.”
“I’m missing the aspect of school and work, seeing my friends, being able to have a routine and just a sense of community when you see the same group of people five days a week. What frustrates me is graduation because, like many other seniors, it was a milestone I was looking forward to: walking across the stage. And now it’s virtual and it won’t have the same feeling.
“My problems compared to what’s going on in the world are insignificant. I’m in the same place as my family and I don’t need to leave my house while others have to and risk their lives. What’s important to me right now is to make the best of this and look for the good in bad scenarios. I think what’s important to society right now is for people to come together and be united.”
“I’m extremely bummed about not having a traditional graduation. Two years ago I was able to watch my sister speak at her graduation and walk across the stage and it’s a memory that I’ll treasure forever. But knowing I can’t have that memory of myself walking across the stage like she did makes me upset.
Not having a traditional senior year has unlocked feelings I’ve never felt before and it’s changed my views on how to go on with my life. Before the pandemic I was never really worried about losing opportunities and occasionally I’d become careless about what I’d do or say. But now with the position that we’re all in, it’s really made me think about how important it is to cherish everything no matter how big or small it is because things can change within the blink of an eye.”
True. What won’t change is the shared experience of the coronavirus quarantine and its impact on the Class of 2020—at Como, and across the country.
Eric Erickson is a social studies teacher at Como Park High School whose classes include AP Government and AP Economics for seniors.