Class of 2020: Senior Year Quarantined

I had *really* high hopes for 2020. January did not start out how I had hoped and really planned for February to pick up the slack. Then March happened. Don’t even get me started on April. Finally, the gut-punch came this past week when the governor announced that students would not return to the classroom this year. This meant my oldest, Class of 2020, would not be returning to his high school as a student.

Without even realizing it, my son’s last day of high school was Friday, March 13th. That is the last day he left the halls of his school as a senior and now won’t be returning.

First day of Kindergarten, First day of Senior Year

Never, in a million years, did I think this was even a remote possibility in March. I understood what was happening. The “early” spring break release, cancellation of the Spring Band Trip to Washington DC, and distant learning the entire month of April as an important preventative measure to help contain the virus.

I work in healthcare as a Nurse Practitioner. My husband is a Firefighter/Paramedic. We are in the thick of trying to head to work to care for patients during COVID-19 and also keep our family safe. Making homemade cloth masks in our free time for ourselves, family, and friends. Decontamination routine once home from work, shopping, or running errands. Somewhat of a routine for distant learning. All of us trying to make the best out of this situation.

The focus has been on getting through each shift and each week of school, hopeful May would bring a change of routine.

I had hope that May would be spared. That my senior would enjoy the last few weeks of friends, celebrations, and activities in the halls of his school.

Then that last glimmer of hope was crushed.

Normally, I would try to find the positive, stay upbeat.

Instead, I have taken the weekend to try to ignore it all. Total denial, topped with a homemade stormy night martini and a zoom evening with friends.

Thankfully today started with lots of sunshine – and no headache. A good morning run also helped clear the mind.

Tomorrow marks the one month date until my senior graduates.

Fortunately, our district has expressed the same sadness and frustration we feel. Today, I finally had the energy to read all the emails sent on Friday.

Since I wallowed in my disappointment Saturday night; today I try to look forward to the new future:

  • Continued classroom instruction over the next month to finish up his last semester, earning credit for two college courses while interacting with teachers and classmates
  • Online Virtual Graduation. Not what any of us wanted, but this will allow all parents, grandparents, and students to be safe. I loved the graduation date of 5-20-2020 and now will still celebrate on this date.
  • Social Media Celebrations. Both email videos for weekly school announcements along with YouTube highlights every Friday Night.
  • District highlighting each graduate home with personalized yard signs that will complement the signs the Music Boosters created.
  • Planned summer/fall celebration for the senior class

Still hurts writing all this down, because it isn’t what it should be. There should be senior award celebrations. Prom. Hanging out with friends. Trip down to Illinois State University to show off to his brothers where he will be attending college in the fall. Graduation ceremony. Pictures with aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, and grandparents outside of the high school. Graduation dinner. Graduation parties.

Because of all we have been through these last few weeks, I am thankful for the chance to learn to appreciate the moments we did have. The last marching season, last band concert, last stage performance.

Knowing what he is missing out these next few weeks has made me appreciate a bit more everything we do going forward.

While we can’t be with family and friends in person right now, we can call them. Drive by the houses and wave from the driveway. FaceTime phone calls and Zoom meetings. Making actual phone calls instead of texting.

I have always been worried about if I have this “parenting” thing down right. Did I teach him the things he needed to know. Was he helpful? Nice? Respectful? Thoughtful? Hopeful?

Watching him process everything the last few weeks at home, seeing him reach out to his friends virtually, celebrating his birthday via zoom and drive-by parade – I know he is going to be ok.

I always thought being part of the Class of 2020 would be a cool year to graduate. I just didn’t think it would be as unique and memorable as it’s turning out to be.

37 thoughts on “Class of 2020: Senior Year Quarantined

  • April 20, 2020 at 07:50
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    My children are all grown and on their own, but as a mother I know this has to be incredibly difficult. And the seniors! OMGoodness! What I don’t understand is why the schools don’t continue with the distance learning and just postpone graduation ceremonies and prom until the summer when hopefully everything is under better control.

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    • April 20, 2020 at 20:26
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      Part of me thinks they want to have closure, not just delaying the actual graduation date (for transcripts, etc.) but also making sure we recognize it and not just say it happened. Such a tough spot to be in as an administration! They are making the best of it!

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  • April 20, 2020 at 08:13
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    Awww 🙁 This is so sad. My daughter is in fourth grade, going into fifth which means middle school. Leaving her elementary school behind with no fanfare was hard enough – I cannot imagine having a senior in high school. I am so sorry. However, your son sounds so well-rounded, which is a huge hat tip to you as his mom <3

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    • April 20, 2020 at 20:24
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      I also have a 6th grader, and this is his last year at his school before he moves to the junior high for two years. I’m really bummed about missing out his last year there because not only did I go to school there, but all three of my kids did as well.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 09:51
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    I feel bad for all the seniors, but I am amazed at what the schools are doing to honor them! It’s going to look different this year, but the good news is that they will still graduate, still get the recognition due them (albeit differently) and they will learn how to deal with challenges as they present themselves through life.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 12:07
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    Congrats to your senior! None of us could’ve seen this coming! Love how you find the positives in spite of the disappointments. Stay safe!

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  • April 20, 2020 at 13:00
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    I am so glad for technology during this time – just for these kinds of reasons. People have had to be creative in order to preserve some sort of memory and so its been a good thing. Thanks for sharing and congratulations to your senior!

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    • April 20, 2020 at 20:27
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      That’s exactly what my friends and I were saying – could you imagine if this happened *gasp* in the 90’s!?! We would have lost our minds!

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  • April 20, 2020 at 13:38
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    I feel so bad for all of the kids who are missing out on their senior activities. So sad for all.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 13:54
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    Oh man! I am so sorry for you and your son and all of his friends. Graduation is a big deal, and having to miss out on that in the normal way is HARD! There are several girls I am close to that are missing these last few months of their senior year too, and it’s just not the same.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 16:19
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    For sure a very anti-climactic way of finishing off 12+ years of schooling. This is supposed to be the most optimistic time for these kids. Definitely a let down for them.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 16:24
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    This is so sad! I know it must be almost unbearable as a parent to see your child missing part of senior year. Maybe the school can put together a summer send-off before the seniors go to college so that your son can properly say goodbye to his classmates. 🙂

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    • April 20, 2020 at 20:21
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      There are planning a senior BBQ at some point this summer or even over Thanksgiving if necessary.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 16:37
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    I was crushed too when they canceled school for the rest of the year! I don’t have a senior but I need normalcy again. I still have a little hope for May because they said they will let gyms open up and restaurants. I love my gym friends.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 17:27
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    So hard to see so many young people that aren’t going to walk and get those diplomas… but I encourage families to still celebrate, party and make it special! Congratulations to your son and you…you’ve made it!❤

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    • April 20, 2020 at 20:19
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      I know – trying to focus on the positive and all that he has accomplished! We are going to try our best to make it special – certainly won’t be unforgettable!

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  • April 20, 2020 at 21:58
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    I hated high school with a passion. If this happened during my senior year I would have been so glad I didn’t have to go back. It is unfortunate that these are the circumstances under which school is canceled though. It’s not like anything fun can happen instead.

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    • April 21, 2020 at 20:27
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      Yeah, I understand high school isn’t for everyone – but the problem is they can’t do anything else. They can’t hang out with friends, interact with anyone except people in the same house. It’s kinda a bummer.

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  • April 20, 2020 at 21:58
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    I definitely got a bit choked up reading this. My son is a high school sophomore this year, and is missing out on so much, but I can’t even imagine how we would all feel if this was his senior year. He’s a Jazz band kid and is feeling the sting of missed rehearsals, performances, festivals, and such, but graduation and prom—that’s just heartbreaking. In the grand scheme of life, it’s insignificant, but when you’re in the midst of it…it’s so important. Sending you love and strength!

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    • April 21, 2020 at 14:51
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      I have a sophomore in the band as well, and their jazz band still meets weekly via zoom!

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  • April 20, 2020 at 22:09
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    I feel so bad for your son and for all the other seniors who are dealing with this right now. They will definitely have some great stories to tell their children some day. It sounds like your school district is going out of its way to make the most of an unfortunate situation. Best wishes for your son!

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  • April 20, 2020 at 23:37
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    I do feel for all those seniors that are missing out on those fun last months of school. Those a special times. I still remember mine. I am sure the seniors will be making it memorable in their own ways all that they can. And once things open up, they will be making up for lost time together. Hang in there.

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  • April 21, 2020 at 00:37
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    Our Governor made the same announcement today. I am not a parent of a senior, but I am a teacher and my heart breaks for all my students who are seniors.

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  • April 21, 2020 at 07:32
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    This must add an entire roller coaster of emotions on top of this crazy time. I’m glad to see how people are getting creative. I hope that once safe, everyone can get together for a celebration of some sort in person!

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  • April 21, 2020 at 12:26
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    I don’t have kids, but my amazing niece was supposed to be experiencing all the same things this semester as well. I think they had all kinds of amazing things planned. She would have graduated with honours (I guess she still is technically), but I feel her loss in ways I’m not sure she doesn’t yet. The last semester of grade 12 is supposed to be an amazing one, and I am so sorry for her (and all the 2020 grads) that this is something she’ll never get to experience. So while not my child, I hear your saddness.

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  • April 21, 2020 at 14:50
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    It is a sad sign of the times.

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  • April 21, 2020 at 17:20
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    These kids will all have great stories to tell one day! Hate that they’ve missed out on so much, though.

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  • April 21, 2020 at 20:13
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    My heart breaks for this year’s Seniors! Truly a tough lesson to learn regarding delayed gratification and perseverance.

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  • April 22, 2020 at 06:29
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    The world has definitely changed. Celebrating this milestone is one of the sadest change being seen now. So thankful that technology at least allows for some form of acknowledgement, even though it does look different.

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  • April 22, 2020 at 21:38
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    I feel sad for the senior’s not having to enjoy their last year. This crisis has truly brought everyone to its knees. It made us realize what we had taken for granted and hopefully something good will come out of this.

    Salute to you and your husband for being the front liners in this difficult times. Stay safe!

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  • April 22, 2020 at 23:22
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    Oh, I feel so bad for seniors this year. So sad to miss out on some of life’s moments.

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  • April 24, 2020 at 01:31
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    My nephew is a senior this year and he’s devastated. Our schools are approved to go back May 7th and nobody knows the plan. We might be the only school with a graduation because our graduating class is 24 students. It’s so sad!!!

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  • April 26, 2020 at 22:39
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    I feel so bad for your son and all 2020 graduates. No one could have imagined that the school year would end in March! I’m glad you get to have a virtual graduation.

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    • April 27, 2020 at 12:40
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      The virtual graduation will be interesting!

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  • April 28, 2020 at 02:25
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    My oldest is a junior in high school. He was so disappointed about his first prom being canceled. I can only imagine what the seniors are feeling! In Hawaii, graduations are HUGE. Big luaus and lots of leis and celebrations. This year traditions have to be pushed aside and new ideas to celebrate have to be created. These kids will have a story to tell of their graduations like none of us ever had! I’m so proud of all these kids that are graduating this year!!!

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    • April 28, 2020 at 18:18
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      My senior *almost* didn’t go to prom last year and so happy he did. I would have been totally heartbroken for him this year if he didn’t have those memories! Just a lesson to never pass up a chance to do something. They are trying to make the best of graduation – we pick up the cap and gown on Friday in the car 🙁

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