A mere three months ago, seniors were hard at work submitting their final college applications, volunteering and campaigning for their organizing and advocacy project, and spending late nights working through what is classically the most challenging point of high school. Some were receiving good (and others not so good) news from their early decision and early action schools, and others were spending afternoons in the weight room or on the field training to prepare for their final season of their spring sport. All were eagerly awaiting what’s often deemed the “light at the end of the tunnel”: senior spring.
With the rapid global outbreak of COVID-19, this long-awaited season has virtually disappeared for this year’s seniors. Events and traditions like the senior retreat, prom, and graduation have been entirely thrown up in the air with the intense uncertainty surrounding the trajectory of the virus.
Seniors, not only at NWS but across the nation, have shared their disappointment and grief via social media. I checked in with a few of my classmates to see how they’re handling our current reality. First, I followed up with Eason W. and Sasha B., whom I had interviewed in the fall for an article on the college application process.
Jarod: What expectations did you have for your senior spring?
Eason: Well, before the outbreak of COVID-19, my initial hope for the spring was to spend more time with my friends at NWS and to generate some good memories before graduation. Now I only hope that everyone is safe and the current crisis can end as soon as possible.
J: Obviously, things have changed rapidly and the situation is much different than how we expected it to be. How are you and your fellow seniors feeling right now?
E: I feel very disappointed and sad about what’s happening. I was really excited for a great graduation ceremony and to enjoy the rest of my time at NWS by seeing everyone at school.
J: What (if anything) are you doing to cope with the loss of your senior spring?
E: Since I’m staying at home every day, I spend most of my time sketching and creating lo-fi music. Of course, I also play video games with my friends – it’s good to socialize virtually when you can’t meet each other in real life.
J: Do you think there is anything to be gained or learned from this situation?
E: Yes. From this situation I’ve regained my passion for art and music, been inspired by what’s happening around the world, and learned to treasure the ordinary time which I have every day.
Jarod: What expectations did you have for senior spring?
Sasha: I was excited for my grade to come together after months of college-induced stress. Many of us have been at Northwest since middle school and I was looking forward to spending our last few months together lounging in the senior hall, playing senior assassin and finally having our prom we had worked so hard to plan for.
J: How did you feel when you learned that school would be cancelled for the rest of the year?
S: Initially, I felt surprisingly accepting that school would be cancelled for the remainder of the year. A few days after receiving the news, however, the sadness of missing my senior spring began to creep up on me. I was upset to not be able to participate in senior traditions, but mostly because I cannot spend time with my friends and classmates.
J: Do you feel like the adults in your life (teachers, parents, etc.) have been supportive and understanding during this time?
S: My parents have been understanding of the grief I have due to school being cancelled and the frustration of online school. I feel as though my teachers have also been relatively understanding and are flexible in terms of deadlines and assignments because of the unknown circumstances of students.
J: Would you be excited for alternative events such as a virtual graduation or altered version of prom?
S: I wish I could say I am excited for alternative events, but I feel as though it may upset me more. I really appreciate the effort being put into these virtual events but like most seniors, nothing will make up for missing these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Seeah L. is a senior captain of the varsity girls ultimate team, and the pandemic has had devastating effects on her final ultimate season.
Jarod: What expectations did you have for your senior spring?
Seeah: I was really expecting to enjoy the weather, hang out with my friends outside, and definitely have less stress from school overall.
J: How has COVID-19 changed these expectations, and specifically how has it affected your final high school ultimate season?
S: My senior ultimate season was one of the most important parts of my senior spring because ultimate is my only sport, and I was really excited for traditions like fan night and senior night and how special they were going to be. It’s probably my main disappointment with how COVID-19 has affected the remainder of the school year. I’ve been playing ultimate outside of school year round, and school got cancelled during our try-out week, so we didn’t even get any normal practices. It’s a big bummer that I wasn’t able to use the skills that I’ve been developing for the last three years.
J: Are you and your teammates doing anything to keep the season going virtually?
S: Our team has been having small workout sessions every Tuesday; it’s not mandatory, but it’s recommended, especially for underclassmen who are going to have an actual season next year. We also have team meetings every Friday where we talk about plays and specific tricks in ultimate that we aren’t able to practice together. Our coaches also send out little emails everyday to remind us of those plays and skills, and to work out, which has been really helpful. I really appreciate our coaches, Anna Maria and Hussain, for sending those emails.
J: What is one thing that you are excited for right now?
S: One thing I’m excited for is starting college in the fall, I think that’s one of the biggest motivations I have right now. I’m meeting new people, thinking a lot about my future, and it’s a bummer that I can’t share that with my friends, but I’m guessing that all of us are excited about this right now.
It’s clear that the class of 2020 is being affected greatly by the virus, and the emotional toll that it’s taking on many of us is something that needs to be addressed. Seniors, it’s okay to feel disappointment, grief, and frustration right now. These emotions are warranted in a time of such chaos and uncertainty. To everyone else, make sure to remind the seniors in your life that you are there for them, and show them some extra love—they certainly deserve it.