An ode to the class of 2020


(Courtesy of Tam High Leadership)

Over the past four years, the class of 2020 has felt the unique historical significance of our high school experience. The 2016 election, driving a rift between political parties, began right at the beginning of our freshman year. A federal travel ban on predominantly Muslim countries, neo-Nazi riots, and tragic mass shootings were in the news throughout our sophomore year. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh for sexual assault was played live on our projectors during class, and we walked around campus with masks on as fires raged across the state during our junior year. And now, as we approach the culmination of an already bumpy ride through high school, we face a global pandemic putting millions of lives at risk.

Many individuals are greatly affected by this pandemic, as we move into a potential economic depression and the world is put on hold. My experience as a female of privilege who lives in an affluent community is different from many others, and I do not disregard or compare these circumstances. Rather, I hope to capture the little things in this time, since many of us only see the big picture of this crisis. I want to illustrate a glimpse into the life of a senior during a global pandemic, and an appreciation for what my class has been through. 

When there were rumors of school being canceled, at first I didn’t mind. With chronic senioritis kicking in, I wouldn’t be too upset about having a couple of weeks off of school, convinced this would only be a temporary reality for a couple of weeks. I know we will be back by prom, so this shouldn’t be too bad, I told myself and others at the beginning of March. When we were released on March 12, thinking we would go back to school by the end of the month, all was well. Then, another update saying we would get back after spring break, April 13, which also happened to be my birthday. 

After that announcement, I began to worry, and I tried to hope and pray things would go back to normal, but they didn’t. CNN was playing on TV 24/7 in my house, and I was hearing one thing after the other. Lack of tests … lack of masks … death rates climbing … echoed throughout my house while trying to block out the noise as I did my homework. It became overwhelming to see how much we were failing to control this. 

My social media feeds were full of “RIP Senior Year” pictures and videos from people trying to remember what it was like before all of this began, trying to hold onto what we had from our final year of high school. 

I tried to keep holding onto hope that by some miracle this would go away. I wished my aunt, a nurse, could be home safe with her kids. I wished that those at-risk, young and old, would have the simple luxury of going to the grocery store. I wished I could see my friends again, paint my graduation cap with the colors of my college, or stand in the amphitheater during a rally chanting “020” as loud as we could. But when we got news that school was out for good, I wasn’t surprised, but I was still in shock of all I had just lost. 

I blew out the candles of my 18th birthday cake in my living room with my family, somewhere I didn’t imagine being a couple of months ago. One birthday won’t matter in the long run, but to me it signified how much had changed. I’m starting adulthood in the midst of a pandemic, a turning point in my life happening at the same time that there’s a turning point for the world. 

For all other seniors out there, quarantine birthday or not, we are all facing a milestone in a time that didn’t go in our favor. In this day and age, you see all of the devastating impacts of this horrible virus playing out live. And as the harm stretches to countless people and communities, the class of 2020 has lost a big part of themselves from this as well. While the whole world is suffering, it’s not fair to compare and measure one’s grief and loss against another. Our pains and sacrifices are as valid as any other. 

Everyone deserves a graduation. Everyone deserves to celebrate getting through this notoriously awful time, and be able to let go of this chapter. I don’t know when or how we may be able to do that, but I hope it comes one day. 

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. This transformative time is going to make us seniors into the people this world needs: people of change, people of strength, people of resilience. While I can’t see any of you, I feel closer to you now more than ever. This collective sacrifice is going to be something we keep with us throughout our lives, and I can’t wait to see you all when the world has calmed this storm.