If anyone told me that I was going to spend the end of my
senior year at home due to a global pandemic, I would have
called that person crazy. In the wake of the COVID-19
outbreak, people across the globe have been forced to abandon
the rhythmic normalcy and daily structure that we all hold
onto so dearly. Although, it is extremely necessary to focus
on the dedicated healthcare workers that are risking their own
lives every day, it is also important to understand a high school
senior’s perspective about the current dilemma. As a senior at
Grace Community High School, I cannot help but feel truly
sorry for all the other seniors missing out on the end of our
high school careers.
After spending twelve years at a particular school or institution,
it is natural to feel an attachment and a connection with the
teachers and friends around you. That is the reason it is so
important for seniors to arrive at the end of their high school
careers on a high note or with a sense of closure. This year, it is
much more difficult to find that sense of closure. From prom
dances being wiped out to the cancelling of both fine arts and
sporting events, it seems as if the concluding moments of a long
story have been erased. Although all seniors understand that
leaving high school is inevitable, it is quite frustrating to be
forced to miss out on the experiences that brought you so much
excitement in the past. For example, there are many baseball
players that have worked tirelessly for their senior season, but
instead of getting the chance to finish their year strong, they
are left only with disappointment. Likewise, there are senior
musicians and artists that have practiced for hours in order to
have a successful competition or concert. Instead, they are left
with a feeling of loss. In the end, all seniors have been impacted
in one way or another, and many seniors are discouraged by the
inconclusiveness of their high school careers.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I honestly felt somewhat
guilty for the frustrating feelings that I had. There was a
pandemic happening, many people were losing their jobs,
and people were getting extremely sick; while I was at home
complaining about how my senior year was “ruined.” Since that
moment, I realized that it is appropriate to feel disappointment.
Rather than stifling our frustrations, we should open up about
our sadness, and we seniors should be encouraged to discuss
our regrets. Most seniors had excitedly anticipated the events
that were canceled so abruptly.
At the same time, the ordinary school system to which that
all students are accustomed, has been completely modified.
Rather than having classroom discussions and conversations
with the people we admire, we have been taking classes online.
From countless Zoom calls to online assessments, the process
has been unique, to say the least. Seniors were compelled to
social distancing during a time when they were expecting to say
goodbye to countless teachers and friends. As a senior class, I
think we never realized how thankful we were for the people
around us until they were taken away. In fact, sometimes it takes
a crazy event like a pandemic to cause one to feel truly grateful.
In life, disappointments and sorrow are inescapable, and I believe
that this senior year is preparing us for the future. Although most
seniors probably imagined a “movie-like” graduation, this year
will most likely be quite peculiar. But just because the ending
of this year is unique does not mean it is any less important
and impactful. The lessons that we learned from this pandemic
might prove to outweigh the cancelled events and occasions. The
Class of 2020 learned the importance of being intentional with
the time given to them, and the Class of 2020 learned how to
adapt and be flexible, all skills that will be helpful in life.
This past football season, my chances of competing in the
playoffs and finishing the season were abruptly ended after I
broke my femur. In that moment, I felt extreme disappointment.
I felt an injustice forced upon me. As I began the long, laborious
process of therapy and rehab, I began to understand the lessons
this season-ending injury taught me as a player. The injury
informed me of the caring community around me, and it
showed how connected I was to my fellow players. It emphasized
the importance of humility and patience, and it put things into
a more logical perspective. Although I never got to play in a
playoff game, and I did not get to finish my career successfully, I
learned the importance of overcoming adversity.
Right now, many seniors are experiencing the same feelings I
had way back in the fall. The senior class is forced to overcome
adversity, and just as my dream to finish the season strongly
was crushed, many seniors are witnessing the cancellation of
the end of their high school careers. At the same time, I believe
the current seniors will be more willing and able to face the
inescapable struggles that await them, head on. Rather than
cowering from problems or bumps-in-the-road, the Class of
2020 will understand how to be flexible because of the effects
of the coronavirus.
In the end, as a senior class we have two options: on one hand,
we can sulk in disappointment at the loss of the events that we
anticipated so greatly; or, on the other hand, we can apply the
challenges of this year to our lives. I would encourage my fellow
seniors to take this disappointing end of the schoolyear and run
with it. Let it encourage us to work harder and love greater.
I believe that Henry Ward Beecher said it best when he said,
“One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments.”
Whether heading off to college or starting a job, my hope for
the Class of 2020 is that our disappointments motivate us to
be better people, and I hope that we can apply the lessons that
we learned to help promote positive change in our spheres of
influence. As I head to Texas A&M University next fall, I hope
to look toward the future with confidence, hope, and resolution
because of the lessons learned through adversity.