During COVID, High School Students Find Other Ways to Celebrate End of Senior Year

They are an unorthodox generation. The class of 2020 was born while the United States was still reeling from the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Their world has been filled with unpredictability since day one.Members of the class of 2020 finish their senior year of high school after being confined to their homes for weeks, losing out on some of the most highly anticipated rituals of the American teenager: sports championships, dance recitals, senior trips, prom and graduation.“I did not realize that March 13th was my last day at school,” said Cassidy Goebel of Evansville Day School in Midwestern U.S. state of Indiana, by email. “One of my friends was joking around and said: ‘C’mon guys, let’s give hugs like the last day of school.’ We all just laughed and said, ‘Sure.’ I wish I would have hugged my friends tighter that day.” Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
Brendan Wright of Cumberland High School, Cumberland, Rhode Island, will play baseball at West Point next year. (Geiselman Imagery)Geiselman is using the proceeds to buy grocery and restaurant gift cards for families struggling to make ends meet. At last count, the total proceeds were around $7,500.Kaylee Powers lost out on a senior trip to Disney World with her two best friends, Abby Becker and Lily Monahan.“Our last day of school was the day they canceled the Disney trip,” she said. “That day, Disney closed.”But the girls did gather for a final time as seniors on school property for a photo session.The three girls have been taking pre-event photos together at Abby’s house since freshman year. A day or two after the photo was taken, they each took a solitary walk across the graduation stage. The event took place over several days to accommodate social distancing guidelines.And so, it turns out, the Class of 2020 closes with a lesson in resilience.Party barnAmy Griffin runs an “entertainment farm” in Helena, Alabama, where she and her husband rent out their barn and farmland for parties. She and her husband staged an alternative prom for area students on June 5.“It was an amazing way for us to provide for our business that has been struggling since closing down the first of March, while also giving back to the community,” she said.Some 200 students showed up, paying $30 a ticket. The dance was held in a large party barn with barn doors left open for ventilation. Tables outside were spaced throughout the barnyard for social distancing. The Griffins strung lights in the trees and kept the petting zoo open for extra fun. Attendees were given masks to wear, although not all attendees used them.Griffin said all went well, except the weather.“About an hour into the dance, a rainstorm came through – but it was laughable,” she said.  “After all, what would an event honoring the class of 2020 be without something unexpected happening?”She noted that no one complained, despite doused bonfires and wet decorations. On the contrary, she said, “Anytime one of them passed my husband and I during the dance, they thanked us,” she said. “As each of them left the dance at the end, they graciously thanked us again. Every single one of them.” 

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