When the governor announced that there would be no school for the rest of the semester, the possibility of an in-person graduation disappeared. Seniors at Harwood did not have their last semester of high school in person. How would you feel? The Valley Reporter reached out to seniors from Harwood Union High School, seeking their opinion on school closing, distance learning and how they are feeling about not having an in-person graduation.
“You build up this picture of what your last year in high school is going to look like. You imagine your last prom, your last lunch, your last class. To have that be gone is hard. I think most kids agree with me in that graduation is the hardest loss. Not being able to say goodbye to our teachers that went through what we all went through, it’s tough.” said Harwood senior Melissa Neff.
The reactions of other seniors were similar to Neff’s, spouting frustration, loss and anger. “My first reaction was definitely that I felt ripped off in a way. I had worked so hard for four years and I felt really discouraged when I learned that we probably wouldn’t have a graduation or senior prom. I felt like all the work I put in was a waste,” said Sierra Hayes.
Hayes expressed her frustrations, but she also talked about how she knew it was the right thing to do. ”But after I had more time to think about it I got less upset. I realized that it was important to shut schools and cancel big events. I would rather have people be safe and healthy at home than having everything open and it being worse.”
“It’s been really challenging to motivate myself to do work because it seems pointless when there’s so many bigger things going on in the world. We have the stress of schoolwork at the end of the year without any of the fun rewards like spirit week or prom,” said Willa Yonkman.
Sydney Kulis says that her stress le
vel has been high, saying she doesn’t have an outlet for it. “I have been insanely stressed. It's been really hard to deal with because instead of being able to distract myself with friends I have to just sit with it, which is hard.”
Although these seniors are missing out on their last few weeks of high school, it has given them time to reflect on their past years of school. “It made me really appreciate my teachers all through high school because I realized how in even times like this they not only wanna teach us but be there for us as people,” said Neff.
Hayes says that it has made her think about her regrets. “Being away from school has definitely made me realize how I didn’t take full advantage of the time I had there. I always complained about school, but now that I don’t have it I miss it. I regret not enjoying it as much as I should have.”
The consensus on a graduation ceremony is pretty consistent among the students interviewed. They don’t want a “Zoom graduation.” Hayes says that she would prefer to have an in-person ceremony but knows that that isn’t an option. “No one expects to have to do a virtual graduation, but if that’s what we have to do then that’s what we have to do,” Neff says that she really doesn’t want a Zoom graduation. “I feel like it’s just kinda a kick in the gut.”