High School Graduation-- Covid-19 Edition

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High School Graduation-- Covid-19 Edition

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May 31, 2020

Senior year, something that every student looks forward to the second they enter high school. It’s supposed to be a time for celebration, big life steps, and most importantly, spending one last year with the kids you grew up with. Starting senior year in the fall of 2019, everything seemed laid out before me, it was just a matter of finishing college applications and deciding on a college, worrying about who might be my prom date, and whether I would be starting goalie for my varsity lacrosse team.
All those worries disappeared when schools got shut down March 13, 2020. At the time only for two weeks, given that Covid-19 was really beginning to hit the United States. My friends and I thought nothing of it and were hopeful for a return to school to finish out senior year. But weeks went on, and one-by-one, everything began to be canceled. First, it was lacrosse. Next, it was the permeant switch to online school. And last, perhaps the worst of all, the cancelation of prom and graduation. When it truly hit that the end of senior year had been taken away from us, I wasn’t quite sure what to do. I sulked around for a long time, and even began to feel like I was losing friends.
Flash forward to May 31, 2020, and I’m sitting in the back of my Dad’s truck, which was decorated in my school’s colors of green and black. I sat in my graduation cap and gown all by myself with my parents in the front of the truck. The community had come together to celebrate the Class of 2020 in the only safe way they could think of—a parade. We waited in a parking lot to drive by my high school one last time. Most of my classmates were there, sitting on top of cars, looking through sunroof windows, or sitting in the back of trunks. It was heartbreaking to see all of my friends split apart, all waving from our cars. Friends who I was only really friends with in class smiled and waved, all of us wishing the other well, and dying to give out a hug.
As we began to drive through the neighborhoods leading up to the high school, the streets were lined with so many people (all socially distanced and with masks), holding signs and screaming for us. I didn’t cry until I saw my favorite teacher, who saw me and also started to cry, saying she got the letter I had sent her, thanking her for being my support throughout high school. It was such an overwhelming feeling of sadness and joy.
When we finally made it to the high school, we all parked and waited to drive by the entrance one more time where they would call our names, as if we were walking across stage. The picture I am submitting is a moment when we had stopped, and I was standing there crying looking out at the high school and all of my classmates. The picture I feel captures how so many were most likely feeling in that moment. Knowing there was so many you didn’t truly get to say good-bye to, but so thankful for the opportunity to see each other from a far.
Covid-19 took away so many things for so many people. Graduation was something I had been looking forward to for years. But to see the community come together for us high schoolers in such a confusing time is something I will never forget.

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This item was submitted on February 10, 2021 by [anonymous user] using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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