Class of 2020 – Are the Kids Really Alright?
Class of 2020 – Are the Kids
The quarantine has taken its toll, and while government offices and essential workers do their best to reestablish some normalcy as states reopen, no one really knows what will come next. High school seniors are no different. These young people on the cusp of adulthood are just as affected by isolation as others, being in a unique position to miss, what some might call, one of the more important days of their lives.
For seniors, the spring semester typically means prom, senioritis and, most importantly, graduation, a highly celebrated rite of passage into adulthood. Sadly, due to the persisting danger of having so many people gathered together, the class of 2020 will be missing the chance to celebrate this momentous occasion with their friends and family.
Caleb Pyfrom, a senior at M.A.S.T. Academy in Homestead, FL, reveals that the quarantine has been nothing short of a blessing. Pyfrom tells us that he has always been fine with “keeping to [him]self,” which hasn’t changed since social distancing was enforced. The same was true for school as well. Pyfrom says he would have attended graduation for his mother, who’d been anticipating the event since he was born, but truthfully, he “didn’t want to go to any of that stuff anyway.”
To some like Pyfrom, events like graduation and prom are tolerated for the satisfaction of others rather than celebrated for themselves. For many students, it seems missing those ceremonies pales in contrast to missing other, more communal aspects of school life.
A senior at Chattahoochee High School in Johns Creek, GA, Erin Yashinsky, participated in musical theater and explained that her acting troupe is a very close-knit group. While stay-at-home orders have given Yashinsky ample time to bond with her mother and sister, she’s most mournful that she is unable to spend time with those close friends.
Jillian Roberts of Woodland High School in Cartersville, GA, says she’s also grateful that the quarantine has given her more time to spend with her family, but just like everyone else, she misses going to the mall, hanging out and simply interacting with others. “The normal teenager things,” she said.
It appears that for most high schoolers, the absence of friends and teachers they’ve cultivated relationships with is being taken the hardest. School simply served as the glue that held their social lives together, keeping all their favorite people in one place.
Some schools, like Roberts’ and Yashinsky’s, have recognized the anticipation of a physical graduation, and are planning a second ceremony in the coming months to supplement the virtual ones taking place in May.
While this may come as a relief to some families, Roberts tells us that she will not be in attendance. She doesn’t want to jeopardize the safety of her grandparents and a younger brother who would be in the audience (and who have conditions that would make them more susceptible to the virus’s symptoms).
“It would just be too much of a risk,” she said.
Still, while deprived of what their parents might consider a crucial moment in their lives, it doesn’t look like the class of 2020 has any intention of letting it keep them down, choosing instead to look toward their futures after high school.
Pyfrom plans to attain a degree in computer science at Florida International University. Roberts is aiming for an ambitious internship doing animation and storyboarding with Cartoon Network, and Yashinsky plans to study biology at “The” Ohio State University, as she proudly put it.
The young adults of the class of 2020 aren’t letting some arbitrary celebration, or the lack thereof, distract them from their accomplishments. Although completing their final courses through a computer screen may have felt a bit lackluster, their diplomas are more than enough to prove it was all worth it. “I did graduate and that’s the important thing,” Yashinky said.
For any in the class of 2020 that may still feel like they’re missing out on something monumental, let me be the first to say that graduation is nothing compared to the life you’ll lead after high school. You may be missing the opportunity to sit in a crowded auditorium for several hours on a perfectly good summer afternoon, but do remember: You made it, and that’s all that will matter.
During this time when nothing is certain and our health is a priority, the class of 2020 shows that even in isolation, as long as you’re alive, healthy and focused, nothing can keep you from what’s yours.