The Sounds, Smells, and Experiences of a COVID Graduation


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The Sounds, Smells, and Experiences of a COVID Graduation

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As the year 2020 ushered in my family and I had many events we were looking forward to, one event was my son’s high-school graduation. Once COVID hit his ceremony got postponed, and then it was turned into a drive-thru graduation ceremony. I felt happy my son’s graduation ceremony was still happening, but sad for both my son and me too. Since, my son would miss out on the traditional aspects of a high-school graduation ceremony, and I felt sad for myself because I did not get to attend my own high-school graduation; so it had meant a lot to me to see him experience what I did not get to at a traditional high-school graduation ceremony. On the day of my son’s drive-thru graduation ceremony, I was driving and my hands were dry and slippery from the hand sanitizer, I constantly put on for protection from COVID, both factors therefore made it hard to focus totally on the visuals of the event; and also impacted my ability to get a lot of video and pictures at the event. These circumstances I feel made me fixate on all the sounds and smells just as much as the visuals in front of me while experiencing the graduation. While waiting in the car line to get to the graduation stage the graduation speeches were streamed from a local radio station. The speeches I heard given by chosen student speakers referenced at times the sadness they felt due to the senior events cancelled due to COVID. When usually speakers at graduations express sadness, but the class of 2020 had a unique sadness and that is the effects COVID had on their senior year. As my son and I approached the commencement stage we both put our masks on, the smells of my car were replaced by the stale air I breathed within my mask that I had become all too familiar with since the start of COVID. My son got out of the car to walk across the commencement stage. The sounds I heard from the car were kind of distant, and made me feel like I was watching the ceremony from a different location. At the end of the day, while watching my son walk across the graduation stage, all my feelings and different observations before the event subsided and I felt nothing but proud of my son. Along with I felt grateful for the people who put together the graduation, for some of the unique sensory experiences I may not have focused on as much in pre-COVID times, and for the event since it could have been canceled because of COVID. If anything COVID implications provided many unique aspects to my son’s graduation ceremony that may come to give more meaning to it in the long run then a traditional graduation ceremony.

The video clip I submitted is one of a few captured memories I have of the graduation; and it’s an example of the distant sounds of the graduation I heard while viewing it from my car.

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This item was submitted on January 14, 2021 by Amanda Mundell using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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