March 6 – the last day before spring break – was a day few Coppell High School seniors could have predicted would be their last day on campus.
For the past two months, social distancing requirements have presented a new way of life. For CHS seniors, the last few months have been an unprecedented end to their high school careers.
“I wish I would have known that last day before spring break would be my last day [in high school],” CHS senior Claire Cheon said. “I was surprised at how large the [coronavirus] pandemic became. It’s quite a historic moment – overwhelming but disappointing.”
Many can attest that despite the ability to interact with others online or through video chats, that is markedly different from being able to engage with others in person.
“Even though we’re connected, I still feel really isolated,” Cheon said.
Prom, a graduation ceremony and graduation parties are included in the handful of events that have had to be canceled due to social distancing guidelines. These traditions were widely anticipated as ways to celebrate graduation and the conclusion of high school; with their cancelation comes disappointment and frustration.
As seniors prepare for their plans after high school, a foggy future awaits, especially regarding the transition to college.
Plans on whether to bring students to campus for the fall semester or conduct in-person classes vary amongst the country’s colleges and universities – while a few have outlined their plan, the majority are waiting to decide, as it remains uncertain what the pandemic will look like in a few months.
However, most universities have canceled summer activities, such as on campus orientations and resorted to online versions.
“I’m a little scared – I was really looking forward to starting college like normal, having a ‘welcome week’,” CHS senior Maya Mohan said. “I’m going to college in New York City where the pandemic is bad, and it’s very likely our semester will get pushed back.”
Mohan will be attending New York University.
Many summer events leading up to college freshmen’s first days on campus are designed to help them transition to college life. With a watered-down version of these events, some seniors feel they’ll miss out on a proper introduction to their life for the following few years.
“Things are still uneasy and up in the air,” Cheon said. “We have no clue when [the pandemic] is going to be totally over. That makes the whole process a little worse – I wish I could go to orientation and meet my future classmates.”
In addition, some worry about preparation for college workload and classes in light of the cancelation of International Baccalaureate tests, modifications to AP exams, and simply not being able to finish the school year with traditional instruction.
“I am nervous about the course load I’ll have in college,” CHS senior Mihir Ranjan said. “I would [normally] be taking IB exams – in some ways I’m not being fully prepared for the rigor of a college education that’s coming up soon. Hopefully I’ll keep myself busy and study on my own so I’m prepared for college classes.”
Ranjan will be attending Cornell University.
The abrupt end to in-person classes and events has led many seniors to reflect on their lives before social distancing.
“I’m a lot more grateful for life before [social distancing], such as going to school,” Mohan said. “[Interacting with] teachers, friends, dancing in a studio as opposed to my garage – now that I don’t have it, I miss it dearly.”
At a pivotal moment in their lives, seniors find the extra time to reflect can prove beneficial, or at least a way to process the multitude of changes headed their way.
“I have time for myself,” Cheon said. “I can think about my past and future. I’ve learned to not take things for granted, and while in the moment, enjoy it.”
As unorthodox as the end of senior year may be, many seniors have found a silver lining in the current situation. The time allotted to them to spend at home has helped a few discover new talents, revisit passions and focus on themselves. Cheon, for example, taught herself to play the guitar and began to play the piano again, which she hadn’t played for years.
Another silver lining that seniors have been able to find is the support of the CHS administration and teachers.
“I’m very happy about how school administration is trying to make us feel appreciated and not forgotten,” Mohan said.
CHS has organized a virtual graduation for seniors and designed yard signs for families to display. On Tuesday, CHS administration members personally drove to senior award recipients’ houses to present them with their plaques. Mohan was awarded Miss CHS.
“It’s really great that we’re trying to make the most of the platforms we’re given [for virtual graduation] and still trying to celebrate students and teachers,” Ranjan said. “I really also feel bad for college students having to do online graduation, but I feel institutions are trying to do what they can for students.”
While most seniors would rather not have to stay at home for their final months in high school, they do stress the importance of doing so and putting collective benefit over their own.
“One thing I’ve learned that’s valuable is that you need to do what you’re obliged to do for the betterment of people,” Ranjan said. “As a member of society, it’s my obligation to other citizens, especially those who are most susceptible, to stay inside. It’s important people consider others rather than themselves.”
Despite their losses, seniors still manage to keep a positive outlook and cherish relationships.
“Honestly, I’m missing out, but I’m fortunate to still be able to graduate and communicate with my friends online and through social media,” Ranjan said. “In the grand scheme of things, I’m trying to enjoy what I have – such as the friendships I made in high school – not dwell.”
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