Sofia Papadopoulos is currently a senior at Hills and the Editor-in-Chief alongside Eric Traub. Before becoming Editor in Chief, she spent her years at the Trailblazer as School News Editor and College Corner Editor while writing away for any section she could. She is very excited to continue writing articles and training underclassmen in her final year with her favorite club (and publication, of course)!
From a senior during the coronavirus pandemic
May 9, 2020
Every day, I wake up and pray that an email will come through saying that prom and graduation will be how they were supposed to be, and that the seniors would be granted one more day at Hills. However, Thursday marked the day that the prayers were completely ignored. For the Class of 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has taken away our senior year.
[Click here to read more about the district’s plan for graduation.]
I’ve been ending my nights in tears, as most of my classmates have, thinking of all the events we had been waiting for that now are simply not happening. So far we’ve lost our last day at Hills, our senior fashion show, our senior prom, the white-water rafting trip, National Commitment Day, and, most importantly, traditional graduation. Yes, we understand that these are just moments that are pivotal in contrast to the thousands upon thousands of people infected and who have passed away from this dreadful virus, but we also cannot help to think of what could’ve been.
We can no longer spend our weekends going out with our friends, our lunch hour going to Wegmans packed in each other’s cars with the music blaring, our class periods laughing with our teachers and classmates while learning the last few lessons in our senior careers. These are the small things, often overlooked, that we are all upset about, as they are the last moments we have together.
On May 1, we should’ve driven into the parking lot bright and early to see all our classmates decked out in college gear, proud of themselves and proud of their friends. We would’ve gone through the day, taking pictures, talking about post-grad plans, and purely celebrating our upcoming year.
Instead, on May 1 we woke up and were able to visit @hillscommitted2020 on Instagram and see where everyone was going before being sent out the National Commitment Day video to celebrate each other. Though we still had to have a bit of the excitement through these social media broadcasts, we still weren’t able to see our friends and have the celebrations we would’ve.
[Watch “Dear Class of 2020,” a tribute to seniors for National Commitment Day, here.]
For student-athletes, May should’ve marked the start of their senior spring season, but now that Governor Murphy has closed schools for the rest of the year, the moments of the season are now rid of the seniors. No traditional senior night celebration before one of their last games and meets, no last bus rides to events, and, most importantly, no trip to Myrtle Beach, Amelia Island, or Universal will be able to be taken for one final time.
On June 5, we would have woken up to go to school for a half-day, orange with spray tan and nails long with acrylics and gels, and gone through senior seminars while anxiously awaiting our hair and makeup appointments that would take place just moments after we were allowed to leave.
We would’ve all gone to the salons and been greeted by our stylists, practically packed on top of each other with the volume of girls getting ready. After, we should’ve driven home, non-stop looking at ourselves in the rearview mirror and becoming more and more excited to put on our dresses now looking our best.
For the boys, they would’ve gone home, ate, and shaved before putting on the suit that they had tailored and rented for the night. The dresses and suits are now on and our dates come, paired with our boutonniéres and ready to bring us to photos before going to the Rockleigh Country Club to dance with our friends and make the memories that generations before us all have made.
Instead, we will most likely sit at home, socially distanced from our friends, our peers, our community in the same pajamas we have been in for 82 days at that point, our hair grown out and our nails not done. Our families may give us an at-home prom, but it will not be the same. We won’t be with the people we want to be with or be able to experience any of the moments we wanted. Now, with no plans on a rescheduled prom, we have completely been stripped of this. No “redemption prom” or even sorority formal will make up for what prom should’ve been and there is nothing we, nor the administration, can do about it.
Similarly, on June 15, we should’ve woken up knowing that the day would’ve been our last as Hills seniors on campus, not March 15. We would’ve had our final practice to walk down the field to our seats, then went home and got ready for the night. Our caps and gowns would’ve been on with our peers close next to us, hugging in excitement for this monumental moment where we celebrate the completion of the past 15 years of education. We would’ve been given our diploma holder, thrown our caps, and been able to see the pure pride on our parents’ faces before getting on the bus for Safe Grad.
Now, we do not know what we will be able to experience. It has been announced that an outdoor event may be able to take place if Governor Murphy allows, but we all must maintain a six-foot radius from all people and be walking down the aisle with a mask and gloves on, unable to hug and congratulate our friends for the past four years of intense work to make it to this moment. Our families may not even be allowed to attend, instead watching a live-stream at home.
For me, this means I will be the first grandchild my grandparents will not be able to see, in person, graduate from high school and will be the first grandchild they will not be able to celebrate immediately after graduating. For others this means their parents will not be able to see their first child graduate, a first generation high school graduate may not be able to walk down the aisle, and so many other major family milestones.
Yes, these changes are a small price to pay, but they are not even assured. If Murphy does not allow for large gatherings to occur, we will have to settle with online graduation, a video compilation including “photos of students in caps and gowns; graduates receiving their diplomas; and speeches from the valedictorian, salutatorian, student government president, faculty speaker, principal, and superintendent” as told to us by Superintendent Erik Gundersen. Though we are incredibly grateful that the district would go through the hassle of doing this for us, it is not what we should’ve had. We should’ve graduated like every other student.
No, there is nothing the administration, our parents, or our government can do at this point, as Covid-19 is a deadly virus that cannot be contained as we would like. Everything the administration is doing for us is really appreciated by my classmates and me, but this entire pandemic is so difficult on us with all of the moments we have wanted for years being canceled.
Looking past graduation, it is uncertain if we will even be able to be on-campus during our first semester of college. If this happens, not only will we have been rid of our senior year activities, but robbed of our first-semester excitement.
Now we sit, waiting for the next May birthday so we can do a quick drive-by in order to be able to witness –– not hug nor hang out with –– our friends after weeks on weeks of only seeing our parents and siblings. The trips to Wegmans and ShopRite are now the most exciting we are experiencing, though this excitement also triggers major anxiety due to the risks of catching this virus. We should not be looking forward to getting eggs. We should be looking forward to senior events.
We are incredibly grateful for this administration, our educators, and our communities for all you have done for us in the past 54 days of quarantine. The signs that have been placed in our yard, the continuous support on social media, and the one-on-one conversations you have been having with us to show your support of the Class of 2020 in this unprecedented time has brought smiles to our faces and alleviated the pain of losing out. All we ask is for our communities to continue being smart and practicing social distancing so that maybe, just maybe, we could have an in-person graduation and attend our first semester on campus.