Dear Class of 2020,
“I hate school.”
“I can’t wait for this year to end.”
“Why am I here?”
These comments have lingered the hallways for years. Whether we stated them with truth, or whether we merely did so to conform to, what appears to be, a general hatred towards receiving an education, we have either heard or said them at least once in our lives.
Now, in the midst of a pandemic, it is uncertain as to when we will return to school, when we will return to a normal routine absent of ambiguity regarding our safety as well as the safety of others.
It is difficult, at times, to be grateful for what we have until it is, without warning, stripped away from us, unwilling to return.
I am certainly a culprit of the comments mentioned above. I was eager to leave high school and pursue my passion in the university of my choice. However, after realizing that I had a mere three months remaining of my high school career, the count-down until graduation no longer injected me with a sense of excitement, but a sense of loss, instead.
Each day was one less day spent listening to lectures from my favorite teachers, one less day spent conversing or laughing with my friends, one less day spent in an environment where I felt comfortable enough to consider it my second home.
Not everyone has the best high school experience; however, I, myself, did not realize how wonderful of an experience I had until it was gone.
Freshman year, I met my best friend.
Sophomore year, I discovered my passion, and I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Junior year, my nights persisted past midnight to complete assignments or study for exams, but I managed to avoid complete isolation by, after years of searching, discovering a group of friends that could, with ease, place a smile on my face.
Senior year, I laughed every single day. I maintained friendships, gained new ones, and improved my socialization, significantly, leading to the development of friendships with those who I never expected to be on my list of people I could comfortably approach. While I am disappointed that I can no longer see my closest friends every day for the remaining school year, I feel as though I am going to miss those friendships that could have bloomed into a closer, deeper connection the most, as they had the potential to become more than a friendship designed for convenience purposes.
These are just a mere summary of my greatest memories, and we all have our own unique experiences that have shaped us over the years.
While I am, of course, proud of both my academic and athletic achievements, I notice myself reminiscing on the social aspects of my high school memories, as those are the experiences, the relationships that I will look back on and think — wow, I miss that.
I miss the giggles that my friends and I would share in the middle of class. I miss the sound of my teachers’ voices. I miss seeing a pool of familiar faces as I walk down the hallway.
And most importantly, I miss the feeling that everything is normal.
From our first day of freshman year, we were all aware of the end-goal — to graduate, to walk across a stage, shake hands with faculty, and hug our high school friends — maybe for the last time, ever.
None of us expected our senior year to be cut short. None of us expected our last day of high school to be March 13, 2020.
None of us.
We cannot blame ourselves for not appreciating the now. Nothing could have prepared us for being informed that everything we looked forward to — pep rallies, spring sports, senior trip, prom, graduation — would no longer be a reality, would no longer be an experience that we would all share one last time, together.
Hopefully, we can still enjoy several of these events over the summer as a form of closure.
However, no matter how much it hurts, every high school senior robbed of their year, whether they are in the United States or elsewhere on the map, is undergoing the same sense of disbelief, the same journey to acceptance.
The class of 2020 will get through this: we are a team, we are bonded by a mutual feeling of loss.
Despite missing out on the remainder of our senior year, we must recognize the fact that, as of this moment, countless individuals are being negatively affected by the pandemic, whether it be the death of a loved one, the uncertainty of a career, or being infected by the disease, itself.
Nevertheless, our own losses should not be ignored.
We worked thirteen years to reach this point in our lives. We have envisioned the final months, weeks, days, moments of our senior year a number of times, and we do not deserve to have those visions pressed into a novel of fiction.
While it is utterly heartbreaking to have our senior year end on such a note, perhaps losing such a significant part of our lives will teach us to appreciate every moment, rather than obsessing over the future.
Our lives are just beginning. Do not waste this time mourning your senior year. Instead, use this time to better yourself — pursue a passion, call an old friend, mend a relationship, exercise, read, and learn to appreciate the little pockets of joy in your life.
Now that our senior year is gone, let’s put our heart, let’s put our strength into whatever path we choose to pursue following the conclusion of the 2020 school year.
2020 is not everyone’s year, but it is OUR year.
This year will never be forgotten, but rather than remember it in a negative light, remember it for a year of growth, for a year of self-discovery, for a year of opportunities to appreciate the now, for a year of promises to live life without regret.
Life is going to give you barriers, but you have the strength to tear them down: we all do.
So, on a final note, I would like to say, wholeheartedly — congratulations to the class of 2020!
We did it!
Thank you to those who made my high school experience a memorable one, even if it was only for a short period of time:
Teresa McCarthy, Philip Kistler, David Kline, Brynell Stevens, Mary Texter, Stephanie Palerino, Cheryl Bucheit, Jeffrey Wolfe, Leon Bucheit, Clark Zimmerman, Gerald Evans, Morgan Geske, Justin Brown, Gerald Weiss, Megan DeAngelo, Colten Eisenhauer, Abigail Behm, Tamandeep Saggi, Jayden Hiester, Samantha Gingrich, Alexandra Kline, Kathleen Crider, Alexander Long, Rosie Henne, Jasmyn Keeney, Anna Stoever, Wyatt Holl, Victoria Rhoades, Amber Miller, and Julia Dierwechter.