Only feels like the end of the world

Class of 2020 faces empty end to high school

March 13th, 2020. A school day like any other for me and many other high school students. 

I remember my friends and I complaining about still having to go to school when local public schools were closed, hoping for a few days off to lessen the stress of our senior year. A few days with no homework to stay at home and relax. I had a new video game I wanted to play. My friends had new TV shows to binge watch. 

We got our wish, and more. 

Making Waves Academy closed that day because of the coronavirus. It would not reopen the rest of the school year.

The first week and a half was fun. There were no classes because my teachers thought we’d soon go back to school. Then the second week came, then the third, then the fourth. The announcements started rolling in. Online school, no prom, no Disneyland field trip, no graduation. No more senior year.

Semester 2 of senior year, arguably the time all students wait for during their entire high school careers. A time for celebration and excitement over new experiences: graduation, prom, grad night, and other senior activities. Celebrating the end of an era, moving on from high school to college, finishing four years of hard work. And just like that it was over. 

Before I even knew March 13 would be my last day of school, the day had passed. The things I had been looking forward to since freshman year were gone.

Unfortunately the class of 2020 will not have those memories and moments. Our high school celebrations pale in comparison to the effects of a pandemic. We can’t complain — we’re scared too. Preventing more deaths is the most important thing. Yet, as selfish as it is, I wish I had a graduation. Or a prom. Or even a formal last day of school. 

I want to mourn the things I could’ve had, I should’ve had. My classmates and I have worked hard for these end of the year celebrations. It was four years in the making, a culmination of all our high school experience.

I’m done with high school in the traditional sense. I will never have a class again. I won’t have homework for much longer. I will never see some classmates ever again, and I never knew that was the last time I’d wave “Hi” to them. 

I wanted to thank my teachers in person, especially those who had been with me all four years like my advisor. The teachers that encouraged me to try my best, reminded me of my strengths and helped me see my weaknesses. Teachers that always welcomed me with open classrooms and advice when I needed it.

Most of all I wanted to leave my underclass friends with some advice. 

They are a group of freshman girls in whom I see so much of myself. Unapologetically studious and weird, always complimenting me on my hair and makeup. I wanted to tell them to never change, even if people didn’t like them, which will happen, and to continue being their confident selves. They are unafraid to be seen — something freshman me could never imagine. It took me four years to build up the courage to be me and here they were at the start of high school already there. I hope they never lose that spark, that fearlessness. I want them to grow even more than I did.

I couldn’t even have a satisfactory close to this chapter of my life. Instead of a celebration it feels like a funeral. 

I feel bad for the class of 2020, having such an abrupt end to our senior year. But I know we’ll use this opportunity to learn and grow. To be grateful for what we do have, the memories we built over these four years. 

We can still celebrate in our own way as we make decisions on where to go next. Whether that is on social media or through video calls with friends and family. We can still celebrate all we’ve accomplished because graduating high school is a big deal. So I’ll celebrate for my teachers who I’ll miss, my classmates, and my underclassmen friends.  

After all, it’s not the end of the world. Even if it feels like it is.