By Caitlin Marsch, Current Staff
I never thought that my senior year at the West Bend High Schools would be abruptly altered by a deadly virus.
If you’ve been on social media at all the last few days, you’ve probably seen memes poking fun at the Class of 2020’s misfortune. We simply had to graduate in the year that COVID-19 terrified the world, of course, and we’re facing the consequences of it.
However, these memes exemplify the real issue at hand: high school seniors are collectively missing some of the most traditional rites of passage and final experiences of high school.
For context, the education system is shutting down, with all non-essential after school activities and field trips being cancelled or postponed indefinitely. That means no more concerts, international trips (for now) or tournaments, just to name a few. Gov. Tony Evers has also called for all Wisconsin public and private schools to be closed until April 6, slicing about a month from the school year.
This means, for many seniors, that they are getting no real closure in activities that they have dedicated countless hours to throughout their high school career. Personally, I am missing state and a couple of national qualifier tournaments for forensics. It’s a disappointing end to my forensics career, especially considering that I may never have the chance to qualify for the national tournament that I’ve dreamed of attending since I was a freshman, or win the scholarship that I’ve worked hard for.
I’m not alone in this experience, though. Student athletes may be missing out on the last season of a sport they dedicate their lives to. It’s not just about missing competitions, it’s about missing those valuable last months with teammates and coaches that you’ve built a strong bond with. Scholarships and scouting opportunities are also being hindered, making the future uncertain for those who plan on playing sports in college. Solo and Ensemble and other music competitions are being cancelled as well, invalidating months of hard work on musician’s parts.
Even if you aren’t involved in any activities or sports, you’re missing out on things like eating lunch with your friends every day or hanging out with your homebase group. You’re missing out on spending time with your classmates before you part ways for the future, and seeing the teachers that have helped pave the way for your success.
Due to the huge risk of contagion, large crowds are unthinkable right now, which renders many traditional rites of passage, like prom and graduation, difficult to execute.
Are we going to miss out on those traditions? Will the fieldhouse and diploma be replaced with a Skype call and an email, or the caps and gowns replaced with face masks and gloves? Will prom be cancelled altogether? Only time will tell how this virus affects us, and the world at large. However, despite fear, misinformation and hysteria running rampant, we’re still in this together. Safety is the main priority, and all we can do is take it one day at a time.
For now, the Class of 2020 will share in our collective uncertainty. We’ll share the memes, too.
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