High school seniors losing memories

By JOSHUA CAMPBELL,

Of the many downfalls of the coronavirus pandemic, chief among them the lives lost to the disease and the families affected, COVID-19 is also responsible for stealing the lifelong memories high school seniors across the country make.

To this point, which we’re still in the early going, the seniors mainly affected have been athletes who participate in spring sports such as baseball, softball, track and archery. Not to mention all of the little memories made by every senior every day at school.

But there’s the potential for so much more to be missed. Senior proms have already been canceled or rescheduled for a later date, while graduation ceremonies are completely in limbo.

For me, my senior year created some of the best memories of my life. From the ball games and school dances to, a senior trip to Disney World and graduation, I wouldn’t trade that time or those memories for the world. I didn’t know it at the time, but those times also helped shape me and prepare for the real world.

A student’s senior year is also the time when most begin to really hone in on who they are, who they want to be and what they want in life. That’s a hard thing to do when you’re stuck in isolation rather than filling your life with experiences. Sure, you have more time to contemplate such things, but you don’t learn from thoughts.

I read an article written by a senior class president (Kate Davis) in Cleveland, Ohio, the other day that highlighted just how seniors are feeling during this uncertain time, and it really put this whole concept into perspective for me.

She wrote, “As I slowly understood the gravity of the situation, I dragged my feet in the halls after all the students had left — walking through the school and reflecting on all of the great memories I had made and those I’d yet to make. It feels like it all ended too soon. … But even the thought of events we consider rights of passage being taken away greatly upsets the seniors; in a weird way, we have been working to get a piece of paper on stage at a ceremony and to hear our name called out for 13 years.”

As many of you know, students often can’t wait for school to end. Whether it’s waiting for that bell to ring to go to lunch or for the school day to be over or counting down the days to the final day of school, it encapsulates a wondering mind. But to potentially lose that finality of walking across a stage (or a football field) to get that piece of paper, a diploma, and to not know if you’ll ever get closure after 13 years has to be devastating to say the least.

Or imagine being a baseball or softball player on a team that is talented enough to win a state championship, which several teams in Marion County this year are or were capable of accomplishing, but not getting the chance in your senior year to see it through to the end — that final pitch, that final game. As a former athlete, not having closure like that would be gut-wrenching.

If the tide doesn’t turn on the coronavirus in America, school don’t resume and graduation ceremonies are indeed canceled, all hope doesn’t need to lost for the seniors. While they wouldn’t have a conventional graduation, there is one option that could be looked into.

With so many teachers and companies using video conference programs, it got me thinking how many people could be involved at once so I looked it up. Zoom has varying options where up to 1,000 participants could be on one call at a time. Obviously in Marion County, that many would be excessive, but there are varying options that would allow students to do some sort of graduation celebration together while being in their own remote locations. It would take a lot of planning, but it could be done. If it comes down to it, it’s something the schools should discuss to preserve that one final memory of a student’s senior year.

Joshua Campbell is sports editor of The Columbian-Progress. Reach him via email at joshuacampbell@columbianprogress.com or call (601) 736-2611.