Molly Jane StClair
Class of 2020 senior shares experience of the global pandemic shutdown.
During this ninth week of lockdown, I find myself reminiscing on that random week in March that I now know as my last week of high school ever. Looking back on that week, I didn’t have the normal feeling a senior gets when they realize it’s their last week of high school. I started the week on Monday, March 9th, like any other week, believing that I had two and a half more months left of what I’m often told will be some of the best years of my life. I wasn’t the only one who thought that either; every student in the class of 2020 believed this.
My friends and I had just begun to organize senior bike day for our class, and we began to talk about Prom plans, organizing our senior prank, and going to spring sports to support the people we have known for thirteen years of our lives. I remember that Monday was a full moon, and for some reason, full moons always put people in weird moods. For that reason, it was a good Monday.
Tuesday, March 10th, 2020. Like any normal day, I woke up at 6:30, don’t really roll out of bed until 6:45, and made it to school by 7:20, barely breaking a sweat while doing so. At 7:30, the first period bell rang, and I was ready for Interior design (an elective of course, but fun class). We stand for the pledge and begin class. Another normal day. The day goes by, I eat lunch with friends, sit in world history attempting to grasp how a person got from the Sahara to India on a camel, and then, seventh period rolls around. Economics. As usual, we begin class with CNN 10 student news, and COVID-19 is the hot topic. This is when we get word that colleges are shutting down. Not only this, but schools begin to pull out of the NCAA tournament, which, being a sports fanatic, I don’t like the sound of. Naturally, we’re all very confused, but also a little bit frightened. At the same time, two weeks off of school didn’t sound bad because we all knew that with colleges canceling, it was only a matter of time before that decision reached us. Spring break was a week anyway, but at the same time, it was our senior year.
Wednesday, March 11th, 2020. Florida has now been in a state of emergency for two days. Spring break doesn’t look too good.
“What’s for lunch?”
Thursday, March 12th, 2020
“NCAA cancels men’s and women’s basketball championships due to coronavirus concerns”
Excuse me, WHAT? I almost choked in the middle of English reading this headline, and then… MLB… NHL… NBA… PGA… all canceled. “Is this some kind of sick joke?”
We go through the school day, and the bell to go to eighth period rings. My friends and I all meet at a locker, like we always do, and walk to our classes together. It’s literally storming, and I mean black sky, Thor is coming, storm.
“What is happening.”
“Nothing feels real.”
“This is the last week we will be in these hallways as seniors.”
All this we say to one another as soon as we see each other’s faces. I immediately deny the last comment because I seem to be the only one holding out on the idea that this will all be over in two weeks so that we can finish high school like a normal senior class, but like I said, it was storming, in more than one way.
As I stare out the window watching the dark clouds roll in, listening to the ongoing conversation about what COVID-19 means for our school year and for our country, our principal comes on the PA.
“Students, take home all of your books so that you have them. This does not mean no school, but take home your books,” or something like that. He may have made it clear that by no means does “take home ALL of your books” mean the cancellation of school, but it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure out that is exactly what it means.
That Thursday evening, the call came in. No school until at least after spring break…
Friday, March 13th, 2020 Not only is it Friday the thirteenth in the middle of a pandemic that is sweeping the world, but no one knew anything about anything. Mind you, this week started out with a full moon and was filled with thunderstorms. When they said 2020 was going to be like a movie, I didn’t plan on it being the Matrix in the middle of Nightmare on Elm Street.
Fast forward to March 19th when Governor Holcomb announces all Indiana Schools closed until May 1st. Okay, that still gives me a couple weeks of senior year. I still seem to be the only one left with any optimism, and then April 2nd, 2020. Headline reads…
“Indiana schools closed through the end of the academic year”
Aka – No prom, No bike day, No last day of school, No spring sports, No spring break . . . No Graduation.
Yikes. A ginormous slap in the face and punch to the gut.
Now, why in the world would I lay out a whole random week in an ordinary teenage girls’ senior year? A great question that has a multitude of answers. First off, you already read this far, so give yourself a pat on the back. Second of all, It was interesting to look back on the most chaotic week most of us have ever and will ever experience in an attempt to reframe this season.
To all of you who think the class of 2020 needs to stop being sad, you must imagine your senior year and that feeling of accomplishment, excitement, and anticipation. Now, imagine it being sent through a wood chipper and then thrown into a fire which then blows up in your face, and you can’t do ANYTHING about it.
It’s like when a kid is promised a lollipop if they eat all their gross peas and then their lollipop gets stolen. Well, guess what, WE ATE ALL OF OUR PEAS. It’s called 13 years of education plus sleep deprivation, puberty, and advanced math past algebra that isn’t useful. You may be thinking, “Okay Molly, you’re being dramatic,” but to a seventeen/eighteen-year-old, school is the only thing you know. At times, it feels as though you live and breathe for it.
After 13 years of it, you would at least like to finish it off. Senior year is the year we have waited four years for, if not more. It is the last season you get with your team, the year you get to make the decisions, THE prom, the last year with the only people you have ever known. The whole atmosphere is different. Never in my wildest dreams would I have EVER imagined a pandemic would take all of that away from me– the most anticipated year of high school.
To those yet to begin their senior year, or maybe just an anticipated time in your life, this is me begging you to take joy in every moment because like I said, my last week of school started out on a good Monday and ended in the cancellation of my senior year. Any day is normal until it isn’t, and you never know what storm will blow in. I’m no meteorologist, but there is no stopping rain, lightning, and thunder. The storm will end, and the rain will bring new flowers, but branches may be torn down. Use the time you have to go on adventures, enjoy laugh attacks with friends, be thankful you can go to school each day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you that your life is going to fall apart, but I am urging you to not take anything for granted because one moment it’s just a full moon and the next moment it’s a flipping pandemic.
Finally, a message to the class of 2020. IT WILL GET BETTER ( and no, I don’t know when). My stubbornness ( or whatever you would call it) to refuse to see what was about to happen before everything was canceled may not have gotten me anywhere – or maybe it did – but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t see it at first. I believe that with every blind, terrifying step, there will be 10 clear steps that will make that fear or anxiety all the more worth it. We are about to open the next chapter in our lives whether you are going to college, going into the workforce, or going into the military. While it seems as though it came all too soon and all too chaotically, like that last week of school, our chapter will be here, and this situation we are in will make us all the stronger and wiser for it.
That being said, I know that there are people in much worse situations and outcomes due to this awful pandemic, but that does not mean our feelings are invalid. With that though, I offer strength. After wallowing in my own self-pity, I came to the realization that I can’t do anything to change the situation I am in, but what I can do is get out of bed and put on a happy face. I can support my friends and spread positivity. I can create and use my imagination I have been blessed with. I can stand for unity and hope which has often been lost in the loudness of this beautiful world. I can be thankful for what I do have, such as my healthy body, my family, the sun coming over that horizon each day, and every single memory I was able to make during high school. I did not leave my school on Friday, March 13th, 2020 in the middle of a pandemic empty-handed. No, I left with the greatest memories, perseverance, overwhelming gratitude, and a journey ahead.