Imagine spending your whole life dreaming about your senior year of high school — seniority rules in clubs and sports, the feeling of your last track meet and going as hard as you can to make it all count, picking out the perfect prom dress and making plans to take pictures with your friends one last time, and getting to walk the stage at graduation. Now, imagine all of those good feelings and events being viciously ripped away from you one by one, and the good feelings being replaced quickly by stress, dread, and like your whole life was one big crescendo into absolutely nothing.
The Class of 2020 has had it pretty rough all four years of high school, but every year, we’ve powered through and did what needed to be done in order to have a smooth-sailing senior year. However, because of the coronavirus, everything that is supposed to make senior year be memorable is getting canceled, and we are left wondering: when will it stop?
Coming into the school year, everyone was excited. This was our senior year, which meant it was finally time to start really diving into college searches, and end our careers as high school students with a bang.
“After going into this school year with such high expectations all I am is disappointed,” said senior Joshua Miller. “I mean think about it, for many of us, senior year started with waking up early to go see all of your friends at the senior sunrise, which I woke up very early for. Senior year is supposed to feel like the culmination of the last four years of work, but now it feels like nothing we did mattered. Most of the ‘senior moments’ that I’ve been looking forward to since I was a freshman have been canceled/modified to fit the situation … It just sucks.”
“You know when you get sick and you wonder why you didn’t appreciate being healthy?” Miller adds. “That’s how I feel now. I wonder why I didn’t appreciate my classes, my teachers, and my friends as much as I could’ve. I want my life back and I’m tired of living in fear.”
Anyone who planned on having a knock-out senior spring break felt whiplash this past month when all of their travel plans were ruined. Although the CDC said the number one way to prevent getting the flu-like virus is to just wash your hands, things changed suddenly. Now, authorities seemed to be saying, “Close down everything! Going outside is a crime! Buy everything you can possibly fit in a shopping cart, and leave nothing for others!”
Of course, there are many reasons why we are practicing social distancing (there’s no good reason for the hoarding). Those the most at-risk for coronavirus are people with underlying diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, hypertension, and cancer. It also affects older generations more (mainly, people 60 and above), as well as pregnant women a bit more than normal, and newborns. This is all due to a deficiency in their immune systems, or the inability to form immunity to certain respiratory diseases, such as having asthma. Although the disease is more lethal to these groups of people, the media did not help with the panic going on in the world at the moment.
“A lot of people are hanging out right now in large groups with their friends,” explained senior Emily Walter. “They seem to only be thinking about themselves, and not the population as a whole. If they were to get the virus, sure, they might not die from it. But if their parents or grandparents get it, it could be fatal.”
Everyone should practice self-isolation as much as they can in the next couple of weeks in order to slow down or even stop the spread of the virus as much as possible, or at least until it is less of a risk as it is now, no matter how frustrating it has made the 2020 school year. The more people stay indoors, the less the disease can spread, and the less chance more important things will be canceled.
Spring break is not the only big event that was ruined for everyone, though. The virus is also messing with in-school activities.
“I was really looking forward to upcoming volunteer opportunities through Key Club and NHS that got canceled,” said senior Bailey Musnicki. “I do not see this week as an extended break. It stresses me out because I’m taking five AP tests this year, and I want to make sure I have enough class time to properly study for them. With this extra week off, I’m scared of that messing with schedules in class.”
Many events have already been canceled, and almost every senior’s biggest fears are the cancelation of graduation and prom.
“Second semester is supposed to be the home stretch for seniors, but with everything getting canceled, there’s nothing significant about it,” Musnicki explained. “We should end high school on a good note, but right now, it just keeps getting more disappointing.”
With businesses closing down due to the virus, many people are losing jobs, including parents, which might be the most impactful reason why COVID-19 is ruining senior year. The sudden lack of income is adding to the stress of everything else going on. With so many businesses closing down due to lack of business or fear of becoming sick, the security that comes along with having a job is diminishing.
“It’s made me very tired,” says senior Carter Koura, who lost his job due to the virus. “I feel unimportant, as if we don’t matter in the grand scope of things. We [might not] get a senior prom, and maybe not a graduation [ceremony]. And we can’t reschedule any of that because we can’t afford to stick around another year. It has to be one of the most lonely feelings I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
The virus is also triggering many mental health issues, along with the obvious physical health risks. According to The Depression Project, some issues that the virus brings up are: triggering feelings of hopelessness, increased health anxiety, decreased financial security, promoting social withdrawal, and increased feelings of despair and loneliness, among other things. It is important to look after those who may be struggling with more than a runny nose and a sore throat in these dark times. People who already struggle with mental health disabilities such as an anxiety disorder, for example, are more than likely going through a rough patch on top of the senior stress trying to stay healthy in multiple ways. Overall, the reaction over the virus has caused one bad event after the next.
The coronavirus has ruined most of the second half of my senior year, and if it progresses, it will end up ruining everything I have worked up to in these past four years. There are still some things that haven’t been canceled that I am hoping will stay. By staying indoors and listening to what health officials say is best, it is up to us to slow the spread of this virus so that all seniors, not just myself, can have the end of the year play out the way we deserve.