For high school students all over the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has cut short the year, taking away many of the defining moments of our year. Many have lost prom, a competition season or a performance — while others closed out their senior year without a goodbye to their friends, not knowing that they wouldn't have the chance again. With the grading period practically over for seniors, and commencement postponed or even canceled, the class of 2020 has lost the culmination of their high school career.
There is so much anticipation placed onto students for their graduation, and their senior year — in some cases, rightfully so, with prom, college announcements, and the last day of classes to keep students pushing forward. But now, with the year gone, students are left to define their high school experience with the pre-pandemic world. Though it may not have seemed like a culmination of school in the moment, now that we reflect and find our defining moments, we will discover them still to exist, in the smaller moments before the pandemic. Whether hanging out with friends, an inside joke, a fabulous class or an emotional connection, there is something in this year to look back on, to give this year meaning.
When we look back on high school, we would have seen commencement as a pleasant memory, that ties up high school with a twirling bow. Now without the bow, we're left without the ending, but we still have the gift. What gives a graduation ceremony its meaning is the work we've put in to further our education and achieve our goals. What gives prom its excitement is the friends we've made and relationships we've forged. We cannot disregard the essence of high school which has brought us this richness in experience and growth. We have competed, performed, and shown what we can do time and time again. With every step we took toward accomplishment, we've outdone ourselves. We've been through happiness and sorrow, neither of which we would have any other way. We've discovered what we like, what we don't and maybe even an inkling of what career we want to pursue. We've had teachers who have made us laugh, who we can't stand, or who have become true friends. None of these are things that a pandemic can take away from us.
It's precisely these things that define high school — the experiences we miss now, and the ones we will smile when we remember in ten, twenty, fifty years. The gift that we cherish, even if the bow isn't there. Without commencement and prom, seniors may have lost the year they had planned, but there is still so much to do. We're left with time to discover ourselves further, and make plans to make up for our losses as soon as we can see each other again. This is a time to reflect and be thankful, as well as remember that our life won't be defined by the one event we idolize — because there is so much more that makes us who we are.
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