Coronavirus vs. Class of 2020

Social distancing sucks. Many of us know cancelling group events, public functions, and parties is the safe, healthy, and conscientious thing to do. However, these cancellations have still created plenty of personal resentment and bitterness.

While there are countless more dire, serious, and dangerous effects of this virus, the class of 2020 feels especially shortchanged. Though online learning may be the perfect outlet for senioritis because it allows us to stay in bed all day, stopping the spread of this virus will likely alter what we had envisioned for our final year of high school.

Prom has been tentatively rescheduled but still may be cancelled altogether. Graduation, and even getting the opportunity to go to all of our classes one last time seems less and less likely. Can it really be our senior year of high school without these quintessentially senior year traditions?

I have watched plenty of TikToks and read even more tweets about how the quarantine feels like a surreal experience. However, I think global events throughout our entire high school career have felt so surreal and out of whack that I can’t even be surprised at this point.

We started high school with the election of one of the most polarizing American presidents in our country’s history. Concern about school shootings and subsequent walkouts to protest have defined our high school experience. We have gone on school strikes for the climate and demanded mental health resources. We have seen refugee crises, children locked in cages, and the stock market tumble and come back again. Even this year started with fears of a World War III.

It is undeniable that cancelling school because of the coronavirus is much more extreme and direct than the impact any of the breaking news from the past years has had on most of our lives. But part of me can’t help but think–of course our final semester of high school would be cancelled because of a global pandemic.

Selfishly, I really do not want my spring semester of my last year of high school to be cancelled. The idea of not getting the chance to go to all my classes, eat lunch with my friends, and see my teachers is  awful. I am going to be extremely disappointed if I never get the chance to go to a prom, walk across the stage to get my diploma, or print another edition of the New Trier News.

However, this is the necessary reality of our situation. It is absolutely the safe and healthy choice to cancel school and any events that would draw crowds, and minimizing the effects of this virus is the most important thing we can do right now.

When I consider the sacrifices I will have to make because of the coronavirus, it’s really not a big deal at all, especially in comparison to what so many people throughout the world have been facing in these past weeks and months.

So we will do what our generation does best–adapt. Group FaceTime is chaotic but can help fill the void. If in a few months, groups of 10+ are once again allowed to congregate, I would love to plan a mock-prom with a few close friends. And graduation via Zoom would be…. unconventional, but perhaps necessary.

It is critical to keep an impartial and global perspective of the severity of these sacrifices. We are all allowed to feel upset, 

The loss of these senior year rituals is unfortunate but not fatal, and at least we have memes to get us through it. We are allowed to feel this personal bitterness, but ultimately what really matters right now is that everyone stays healthy.