High school seniors are lamenting the loss of once in a lifetime experiences in their final year of high school.
By: Alize Centeno and Joana Perez
High school graduates happily throw their graduation caps up in the air as a way to celebrate. (Pexels)
Due to the ongoing pandemic, high school seniors, the class of 2021, are missing out on many final school memories and the traditional milestones they would otherwise have.
On March 16, 2020, schools across the state closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but districts remained positive about reopening before the end of the academic year. However, a year later, many schools have remained closed. Animo Pat Brown Charter High School and many other schools began the school year in early August with all of its students learning from home.
After a full school year spent online, many high school seniors all over the state are feeling burnt out and disappointed after missing out on a year full of excitement and lasts. “I feel like I missed out on the whole senior year experience mainly because it has been spent online,” said APB senior Angela Contreras.
She and thousands of other students are mourning the loss of their senior year. The class of 2020 missed out on a typical graduation, but the class of 2021 missed everything.
Even though the class of 2020 missed out on many senior events, they were still able to experience a portion of their senior year, unlike current seniors who will not be able to experience the traditional senior year at all. High school seniors usually enter their final year with excitement about what their senior year will bring, but this year was different.
The seniors this year missed many milestones, academic achievements, and many other special events due to the Coronavirus pandemic. They missed out on multiple activities such as important coursework, clubs, community service, internships, and college entrance exams.
Beyond academics, they are also losing those unforgettable memories such as prom, grad night, senior trips, and walking across the stage at graduation. “I am most disappointed in not having Grad Night, which is a special night for seniors; you can go to either Universal Studios, Six Flags, or any other amusement park. It’s us coming home at around 2 in the morning, and having an entire night of fun with our classmates and friends,” said senior Jaylene Macias.
The graduation ceremonies for many high school seniors will be much different than those in the past. For students at Animo Pat Brown Charter High School, who will graduate on June 10, health and safety guidelines established by the Los Angeles County Department of Public health will be followed.
While high school can seem long and grueling in the moment, most people look back on their high school memories fondly. While academics are important, the memories made with these milestones will last a lifetime, which is why these milestones are really important to high school seniors.
High school seniors from Spain Park High School follow health and safety guidelines during their graduation ceremony. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
School closures are only one effect of the pandemic on high school seniors, causing the disruption to these students’ daily routines and structure.It has also had a significant impact on their social life, which is frequently centered on school and school activities such as the many senior events that were planned. Without daily interaction with their peers, students are failing to build relationships that are common at this time of their lives.
Many seniors have been feeling frustrated and burnt out ending their senior year online due to the pandemic. “It is bittersweet. I didn’t care much at all before, but on social media it was discussed a lot and it made me realize that the years went by really quickly. I’m spending my final year online on a computer the whole day, totally isolated and I haven’t seen my friends in like a year,” said senior Aileen Orihuela.
Although it has been a rough year for many students, especially high school seniors, it is important to acknowledge their hard work.There are many ways parents, loved ones, and others in the lives of these young adults can do right now to help high school seniors cope.
One of the best ways to do this is to honor their achievements, even if it is virtually. Planning ahead for a party once social distancing is over or arranging a video call with important people in their lives telling the student how proud they are of their achievements can really uplift them.
Another way to help high school seniors cope is to help them find positive coping strategies to manage disappointment. Learning skills such as deep breathing, mindfulness meditation and relaxation can help to reduce anxiety, stress, and worry. The more young adults are taught positive coping skills during these difficult times, the better prepared they will be when dealing with similar negative situations in the future.
It is important to remember that if these young adults are given positive support and allowed to figure things out on their own, they can learn to be quite resilient. Send positive messages that you believe they will succeed, not that you are waiting to save them when they fail.
Tales of how the worldwide coronavirus pandemic shut down schools and, in many cases, ruined what up to that point was likely to be one of the best years of their teenage years, within which were several of their best and most unforgettable moments. High school graduation, senior trips, and other traditions, were all gone or were held in quite different ways this year than previous years. It’ll be a time the class of 2021 never forget, for better or for worse.