Just a few weeks ago, I thought that the biggest effect of COVID-19 would be the cancellation of SXSW. Now, with a stay-at-home order issued and online classes starting up on Monday and continuing at least until May 4 after today’s state executive order, I’m wondering how many of my classmates I’ve seen for the last time.
I remember waking up on Friday morning a few weeks ago, ready to go out for brunch with my friends on senior skip day, and hearing the news that school was canceled for everyone. At first I was mildly upset that our skip day was ruined, but I quickly realized that it was much bigger than that.
We are at a point where almost everything is up in the air. We know that classes will continue online, but we do not have a time frame for when we’d return to campus, if ever. Thursday the 12th might have been our last normal day of high school.
The transition to online classes will not be easy for anyone, but the seniors will be hurt most of all. Though senioritis has caused many of us to claim that we no longer care about high school, it is still painful to realize that the culmination of 12 years of hard work will end in front of a computer screen.
That being said, the safety of the community is undoubtedly much more important than social gatherings. I fully understand why extreme quarantine measures are necessary to protect society, but we still should be able to mourn the loss of our last year as kids.
This was supposed to be our year. After a stressful first semester of finishing up college applications, the next few months were supposed to be for making memories with our friends while we’re still together. We were supposed to go to prom, attend senior banquets, sign yearbooks for the last time and walk across the stage at graduation in front of our family and friends. Though none of those are off the table for McCallum seniors yet, it is not too early to be prepared for the possibility that AISD might follow what some schools across the nation are already doing and cancel or postpone all upcoming events.
Because many things are up in the air, it is difficult to accept the reality of what the next few months of school will be like. One thing that is not uncertain, however, is our ability to make the most of any situation. After prom was postponed, my friends and I decided that if we would hold our own mini prom once the quarantine was lifted. We even made plans to have our own personal graduation ceremony in case that was cancelled as well.
Even though we are social distancing, we don’t have to stop being social. We can and should embrace our feelings about the loss of a normal senior year, but we can still FaceTime our friends, do TikTok challenges, binge Netflix, learn to cook, make memes and live our quarantined lives as normally as we can.
Twenty years from now, COVID-19 might be the main story I remember from my teenage years, but it is not how I’m going to remember McCallum. I’ll remember obnoxious pep rallies, early-morning cross country practices, stressed-out newspaper late nights and coffee-fueled calculus classes. The few weeks or months that we spend learning in front of a computer screen won’t feel anything like school. It’s an unfortunate way to spend our last adolescent year, but we can make it work and still be ready for the next chapter of our lives.