Spotlight on Seniors: COVID-19 ends the Class of 2020’s Senior Year

For the past three years of high school, these seven seniors have been looking forward to their last moments of high school. Emily Klein, Savanna Dare, Aiko Wolf, Tucker Richards, Planeta Gashi, and Canyon Schuenke joined an online meeting with two Criterion staff members to discuss their feelings about the effects of COVID-19 on their senior year.

They reminisced about memories made prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many spoke of the excitement of being the student section leader. Others commented on just being a senior and the new experiences that they were allowed to have because of their “senior status.” A favorite experience was the exclusive, senior only Homecoming dress up days. Though their first semester was beyond memorable, rumors from past senior classes hinted that the second semester of your senior year would be the best time of your high school experience.

For these seniors, these rumors were not the case. Many missed their final senior performances, games, and seasons.

“I feel as though all of our hard work and dedication got ripped away from us. At some point in high school every student feels frustrated, disappointed, and stressed about school, but we always pushed through because we knew what the end of senior year held. Well, we thought we knew. Those exciting, cheerful, sentimental times we were supposed to experience, were things that gave some of us the motivation to not give up. It’s just simply not fair,” said Savanna Dare.
Many of the seniors agree with Dare, Gashi adding that she would rather have memories than things.

Pivotal senior moments are also being missed by these extraordinary seniors. They expressed disappointment for missing prom, placing handprints in the hallways, the walkthrough their elementary schools, and many more. Most importantly, they are frustrated about graduation. Currently, only a virtual graduation is guaranteed by school officials. A more traditional graduation is unlikely due to the current circumstances. Richards expressed his frustration about not being able to walk across the stage and shake hands with the teachers that had truly impacted his high school career.

Currently, many seniors had to commit to a university, even though future steps are still unclear. As more information comes out, the seniors are being left with more questions than answers.

Though COVID-19 has kept them from pursuing a normal senior year, they have found new ways to celebrate. Some have visited friends in the drive-through at their workplaces. Richards took it one step further by meeting up via Facetime with his friends and ate Popeyes together in the parking lot. Others found time to spend their last senior season together as well. Dare and her senior teammates attended the Be the Light celebration and concluded their night by passing a soccer ball six feet apart. They all hope for quarantine to be over soon to see their friends once more.

They are beyond thankful for all of the encouraging words from friends, family, and teachers, however, they truly believe only other seniors can understand what they have gone through. These seniors came together, stronger than ever, to share their stories of how they view this pandemic. Though COVID-19 has quickly shut the door on their senior year, they have achieved many amazing things and their futures are still looking extremely bright.

We wish you all the best Class of 2020!