Lame duck students face stress, uncertainty

End of senior year becomes open book

It’s a breezy but sunny day on campus. You walk through the salmon colored halls to your last class of the day after standing on the famous senior lawn with friends during brunch. After watching the clock tick at the speed of a slug, you impatiently wait for the last bell to ring. The bell finally rings and you feel relieved knowing that it’s finally the weekend.

However, the next morning you realize that yesterday was your last day of high school ever. This was the scene for most Miramonte seniors when coronavirus became acknowledged as the silent killer of the world in early March.

As shelter-in-place and stay-at home orders were put in place over almost all of America, K-12 schools were forced to cancel the rest of the school year. High schoolers across the nation are trying to hold onto the memories they made this school year while trying to face the hardships caused by the spread of COVID-19.

While other grades are facing hardships, seniors lost some of the most precious months of their high school career. 

Each high school celebrates its graduating class with special traditions in order to honor the time of those students. 

At Miramonte, seniors usually get to participate in a number of activities throughout the fourth quarter of their school year. Some of these events include Senior Ball, Senior Pranks, Senior Ditch Day, Senior Sunrise, the Goodbye Rally, and graduation. 

Many Miramonte students look forward to these events starting freshmen year. However, the class of 2020 will never get to experience them. 

With all of these beloved events out the door for most seniors, many lost their last moments in class and time spent on campus with friends. 

“I couldn’t thank my teachers for everything they have done and I couldn’t even walk across the quad one last time. I never knowingly bought my last drink from the vending machine, I never knowingly walked to class for the last time, and I never knowingly appreciated what high school has brought to my life,” Miramonte senior Anika Shandalov said. 

Many seniors also lost their last season of their spring sport. Baseball, softball, boys and girls lacrosse, swim and dive, boys tennis, boys volleyball, boys golf, and track and field athletes won’t get to play in their last league game, walk at their senior nights, or get the opportunity to compete for one last North Coast Section (NCS) championship. 

“It’s honestly very saddening losing your final season of baseball. I wish I could walk up to the plate one more time with my walk-up song ‘God’s Country’ playing one more time I always knew it would end this year, but just losing it so suddenly was the painful part,” Miramonte senior Jackson Oxner said.

Losing these precious events that make high school so memorable is a burden for many seniors, and these students can’t even finish high school normally. 

Miramonte classes will continue online for the rest of the semester under a pass/fail system. Students currently enrolled in AP classes now have the option to take that test online. According to the College Board, all AP exams will be accessible through a mobile device or computer and most will only take up to 45 minutes. A normal AP exam usually takes four or five hours, which leads many to the question that has yet to be answered: How will the College Board pull this off?

While it is easy to see that high school seniors are afflicted with the most coronavirus losses, juniors and underclassmen are not immune to difficulties. Juniors are facing uncertainty regarding how the change in grading will affect their college admissions process, particularly how colleges will calculate cumulative grade point averages (GPAs) while taking the credit/no credit semester into consideration.  College and Career Center Advisor Stephanie Brady reassured students that colleges will do their best to accommodate the situation in an equitable way. 

“The consistent message that I am getting from [colleges] is they want to make sure that whatever our district decides is the best policy for us is the policy that we put in place. So they are being very accommodating and respectful of the policies that we have, ” Brady said in a March 31 video message. 

Additionally, The College Board officially canceled both the March and May SAT exams, and ACT canceled its April exam, which may bring further stress to both sophomores and juniors who were signed up for these test dates. To alleviate some of this uncertainty, several colleges, including all of the University of California (UC) schools, have opted for a temporary test-optional policy for the Class of 2021 admissions cycle.

“UC will suspend the standardized test requirement (SAT and ACT) for students applying for fall 2021 freshman admission,” according to the UC website.

Another concern is that programs or jobs that students were intending to participate in this summer are being canceled, and it’s unclear how this will affect the college admissions process for future years.

“I think that this will make it harder to evaluate applications in the future because students won’t be able to show that they can perform well in high-level programs. This will make it harder for students to distinguish themselves from others as much as in the past.” junior Anna Hillen said. 

There is no doubt that every grade is being faced with challenges. Even those who still have multiple years of high school left will face challenges in the future because of the current situation. 

Many aspects of life remain uncertain, but this can also be a time to focus on personal growth, spending time with family, and cherishing the things that everyone still is able to do. While it is unclear what the future holds at this point, everything will work out eventually. It is important to take note of and express your personal feelings, but dwelling on what is lost is counterproductive, so refocusing your energy on more positive things and staying on top of current remote school work is the key to getting through this difficult time.