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#InYourWords: High School Seniors Respond to School Shutdowns & COVID-19

For students of all ages, the COVID-19 outbreak has been life-changing. Kids too young to fully understand the virus are now spending all day at home instead of with their friends, and college students have been forced to vacate campuses and return home for online classes. For seniors in high school, this period of time is especially difficult. Senior year is already an emotional time for many students, as they prepare themselves to say goodbye to the friends they’ve known all their lives. Now, in the face of the pandemic, seniors are also forced to adjust to a new style of learning, and many feel that these last weeks of school were stolen by the shutdowns.

Difficult Changes

“It has changed my life in many ways,” Says Hannah White, a senior at Mingo Central High School. “I can’t go to school, and I’m forced to do all of my classes online, which I hate, because I learn so much better in a classroom setting. I feel distracted at home.” It can also be hard for students to focus when the world is as stressful as it is, Hannah says. “I worry, I’m stressed, and I have anxiety about the virus and how it’s going to affect me, my friends, and my family. I live in fear that someone I love will contract the virus.”

Emily Adkins, a senior at Tug Valley High School, agrees. “To be out of school for this long is very different and difficult for me, especially since it is my last year of high school. I am grateful that we are able to continue school through online assignments, however I would much rather be in the classroom learning. This is very different from anything I have ever experienced, so for me, I have been trying to adjust to everything that is happening.”

The changes to social life are also hard for some students, Drew Hatfield, a senior at Mingo Central High School, says. “I would say the biggest change that this has on my life is not being able to be around my friends. I feel like the best thing about high school is the relationships you build with people,and the class of 2020 was a really close group.” Drew makes an effort to stay in touch with his friends over social media. “I’ve just been messaging my friends about every day asking how they are doing. Usually every day a couple of my friends and I will play video games online with each other. Just any way to stay in touch while all the stuff is going on,” He says.

For many seniors, the hardest part is fearing they’ll miss out on many important milestones. “I have always dreamed of the moment when I get to walk across the stage and look to my parents and feel accomplished that I made it through high school,” Emily says. “To think that I might not get to have that experience is very upsetting. Senior year is supposed to be special for everyone, and I feel that the last few months of getting to walk the halls of Tug Valley High School were ripped away from us.” Drew agrees. “This pandemic, I feel, is taking one of the best times of my life away,” He says.

Finding Hope and Positivity

Hannah, Emily, and Drew all find hope that they will see some closure. “I am still hoping that we get to have a prom and a graduation even if it’s months from now so I can have closure and I can have some happy moments with people that I have spent years with,” says Hannah.

Like folks around the world, many high school seniors are striving to find the positive, and appreciate the small things. Drew has found himself spending plenty of extra time with his family. “Especially with this being my last year before I head to college, being able to be around my brothers and my parents during this time has been the one upside to this whole situation.”

Hannah looks forward to moving on from this without negativity. “I hope to move on from this, not bitter, but to try to learn from it, and let it help me to be a better person, and to always be thankful for the people and the happy moments in my life,” She says. Emily agrees. “I’m looking forward to just living life in the moment,” She says, describing what she’ll do when the pandemic is over. “Not taking anything for granted, and to make sure to see my friends and family as much as I can.”

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