Senior Year is Cancelled? by Tomasina DeLong

As the pandemic of COVID-19 continues to spread, people are expressing their views about it on social media. This is the first time that I, personally, feel as though I have been affected by a crisis such as this. Often we read about wars and illnesses while feeling the security of privilege because we are fairly certain that it will not force us to make any drastic changes. This is where COVID-19 is different; it is closing our schools, canceling our concerts, and changing how we operate on a daily basis. I am conflicted in my feelings regarding the mandated closures. On one hand, I am a senior in high school and this is supposed to be the most carefree time of my life, but on the other hand, I am part of the at-risk populations so frequently referenced in media coverage. I have been working with a group of my peers on a project to bring a TEDx to Shaker Heights High School once again, a project that has been in progress since the fall of my junior year, a project which has recently been canceled until further notice. I can speak for the group when expressing great sadness upon hearing that the event had been canceled; however, at the same time, we had discussed this possibility during our meeting that day (several hours prior to this announcement) because we understand the district’s job in preventing community spread. These event cancelations are intended to limit large group gatherings and at the time the only people believed to be affected were the elderly and those with preexisting conditions or compromised immune systems and I am thankful that community officials are being mindful.–Pandemic - Typewriter image

Per recommendations from my doctors, I am only leaving my house for essential activities which almost led me to not vote in this year’s primary election due to health concerns. This means that during this 3 week “extended spring break” I am not spending time with my friends or going on my planned college visits, so it doesn’t feel like spring break to me. I would not be surprised if our prom were to be canceled, and the senior project I was planning on participating in has already been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak. People joke about how the class of 2020 will graduate via Google Hangouts — and this is funny — but this possibility seems more and more real as the pandemic continues. Imagine that: no graduation? I mean, do people truly enjoy sitting in a cramped auditorium with potentially no air conditioning waiting 4 hours to walk across a stage for 45 seconds…I can’t be sure, but I feel like this is something I want to experience, no matter how dreadful it may be. 

I am frustrated, not at any person or organization because I understand they are simply taking necessary precautions for the safety of the public. I feel robbed of a traditional senior year filled with spring break trips, college visits, proms, musicals, and spontaneous gatherings. That being said, this is unprecedented and uncharted territory so in the spirit of positivity I need to remember that my senior year is unique and eventful in its own way. Additionally, the school and restaurant closures pose financial problems for people who cannot afford childcare or have been laid off due to corporations limiting hours. Long story short: everyone is being affected by COVID-19 and all we can do is partake in social distancing and hope that this blows over as soon as possible because it is a burden on the entire world…just remember you are not alone.

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