It was finally my turn. It was my time to walk the campus and the stage. It was my time to be the upper, upperclassmen. And it was finally my time to hear people say that I had “senioritis”. I was excited. I was ready, and I might have even been a little disrespectful saying, “I can’t wait to get out of this place.” I didn’t say it because I really wanted to be gone. I said it because I was ready; you helped me, you prepared me, and I wanted to take my next jump.
I was ready to take a hard, senior class,
I was ready to get dressed up a take a senior picture,
I was ready to make bad choices at grad night,
I was ready to ask that special person to be my date for prom,
I was ready to cry when I opened up my first acceptance letter,
I was ready to wear a graduation cap gown that said I did it and I made it.
But instead of hearing and seeing math problems and formulas such as y=mx+b, I am hearing and seeing COVID-19. When I said I was ready to go, I was ready to go by my choice, because of my accomplishments. Not this. I took this moment for granted. I didn’t believe it would be over in the blink of an eye. I didn’t think that the end of my senior year would start with cough.
I just want to be a senior. I just want to be a student again. I walk to see the people who inspired me for years. You, my teachers. I want to see my friends. Yes, we had our ups and downs and we were going say good-bye in June. But I want to get a yearbook signed. I don’t know what will come next, but I hope I wave to my family and teachers from a stage and not on a computer.
Never before have we seen students be stuck in such a time of unknown. Their normal is gone. Their routines broken. Their safe places disappearing. As for our senior class, they wake up every morning realizing that some of the special moments that people talk about for all their lives are slipping through their fingers. It is up to us rally and support them one last time. They need us. Let’s try and make things happen to ensure that “the senior experience” can still happen. Here are some ideas:
- Virtual spirit week. Students can take pictures for each spirit day and post them, tagging the school.
- Virtual smoothie or coffee hour. Provide a time during which seniors can talk and share with adults.
- Virtual celebrations for acceptances into college. Recognize each acceptance with social media campaigns.
- Develop Pinterest pages for best prom outfits (even if they don’t get to go).
- Hold enrichment activities such as clubs that meet virtually.
Our students need us more than ever. Every student needs us, but our seniors are screaming for that last bit of love, support, encouragement, celebration, and assurance. We are still here. We can make things happen even though we are in our homes, because love and support doesn’t stop at the door. Let’s not allow a terrible disease to be the only memory our seniors take with them this year. When they look back on this historic event, we hope that they will also remember all of the things we tried to do to make things as normal as possible for them. Maybe they’ll even laugh at us, years from now, when they look back at the pictures. But when they realize the lengths we went to honor their accomplishments, they will say, “I remember this teacher…”