High school is supposed to be hard. Emotions are involved in everything, AP’s are abundant, and extracurriculars take up quite a bit of time.
But no one ever expected it to be global pandemic hard. No one predicted half of the campus turning to ash hard. No one anticipated political division so strong that the future of our nation is in jeopardy. Yet those three things are defining moments of my and many other seniors’ high school experience at OVS.
In no way has it been a normal four years.
I was hoping, before the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020, that college would be a new start. I wanted to do something steady, that I knew had been done the same way many times before. But as I write this, emails from various colleges have come in saying that things may change in the coming months. My hopes that normality will become normal are at a low to be truthful.
At the same time, I know that there is a silver lining in all of this. The best of humanity emerges in times of struggle, and sometimes the catalyst for reform blossoms with the growth of issues such as those that we currently face.
I’m 18 years old, about to go to college, and although there are times that the world’s problems weigh heavily upon me, I know that in the end this is just motivational fuel. Yes, I’m in isolation, and may not see my friends for the rest of my senior year. I may not get to sit among my peers in the Carl S. Cooper amphitheater for graduation. I may not get to move into my dorm room on the first day of college. But in the grand scheme of things, for life, for humanity, and for our planet, they are trivial. Events such as this empower us to find change, to root out the issues that strangle progress and re-envision a better life for all.
But until those problems can be addressed, it is those small things that matter to me. It isn’t what we know about the current state of the planet that scares us. It’s the uncertainty.
For me, it’s not knowing if I will get to walk on the field that brought me scars, cheers, and connections that I never believed possible. It’s not knowing whether I’ll hear our student body president Aaron Wolf say, “Good morning everybody” at milk and crackers again. It’s not knowing if I’ll be able to transfer those skills, values, and memories to a new life, a new place that will give me as much as OVS has. A life where normal is normal.
by Sebastian Wayman-Dalo
The Class of 2020 has really been through a lot. Recently I have been reminded of the fire.
When the top half of our campus went up in flames, there was a great uncertainty that came with it. But after the ashes settled, we knew that the next steps were up to us. What progress would be made was resting in our hands. And we came back from it- we were unstoppable.
This time, however, we don’t even know when the ashes will finally settle because we can’t even see them. We are no longer up against a brutal force of nature, but unlike last time, all we can do to overcome this new challenge is sit and wait.
Waiting in itself may not seem like such a great task, but for seniors, our time is running out. We’re sitting and waiting, and missing out on everything we’ve been looking forward to.
All of us have spent the last three and a half years hard at work with our nose to the grindstone so that we could reach this point. This was the time when we were supposed to relish our achievements, to enjoy the camaraderie that we had built with our fellow seniors, and do the things we’ve been looking forward to since the beginning, the things that define our final year at OVS. Now it seems all of that is escaping our grasps.
Prom has been postponed. Our Honors rafting trip, our senior class camping trip, and even graduation may have to be canceled. And there’s nothing we can do but wait, locked up in our houses, isolating ourselves out of necessity. This isn’t how it was supposed to end for us. The class of 2020 was supposed to be celebrated, not wallow in an indefinite melancholic quarantine.
I understand why it has to be this way. There are countless people in the global community going through extreme hardship and loss, and failure to acknowledge this would be grossly selfish and ignorant. There is nothing we want more than for that to end for the sake of everyone, but especially those most directly affected by the virus. And that’s why we so willingly abide by these lockdown rules, even though they jeopardize the future we had worked so hard to achieve.
But now, instead of working on our class gift, training for our final sports season, and celebrating our college decisions together, the class of 2020 has been broken up early. We are scattered across the world, some forced to self-quarantine by local officials, some roaming silent beaches and storefronts, and all likely waiting for that email that tells us this is all over, just as I am. Communication is sparse as many continue to process and internalize the events that have transpired, running over the possible outcomes in their head. It’s hard to be optimistic about our chances of returning to normalcy.
Colleges continue to release their decisions, and our incredibly accomplished senior class continues to receive amazing news, but without the classmates that worked so diligently alongside us, the celebrations are lackluster and the good news is overwhelmed by headlines popping up on our phones, removing any hope of returning to school after spring break.
We’re not ready to bid farewell yet. Hell, I’m definitely not ready.
As I got into my car that Friday afternoon to drive home from school after we had switched to distanced learning, I never thought that would be the last time I set foot on that campus as a student. I never imagined I would be seeing all my friends for the last time, and I certainly wouldn’t have believed that I would allow myself to leave without saying goodbye to a single person. But I did, and now I’m not sure if it might have been too late. That very well may be the closest thing I have to that boisterous walk across the stage graduation, and it makes my stomach turn.
From the time we were incoming freshmen we had been told about the amazing times that senior year held for us. And not to discredit any others before us, but our class is remarkable. We watched year after year of seniors before us revel in their efforts and enjoy the last stretch of senior year together as a family, and we labored arduously so that our last bit of time together would be the best we’d ever had.. And just as it came time for us to reminisce and capitalize on our remaining days, it all came to an end. It didn’t even come crashing to an end, we didn’t even get the satisfaction of that. It just lazily ended. Now this may not actually be the end for us, but for the numerous separated seniors around the world, it sure feels like it is.
It’s as if we had waited in line for days for the premier of a new movie, sat through a confusing three hour plot for the most magical ending, and then right before it came to a close, we found out Quentin Tarantino directed the film, and our dreams of a satisfying ending were crushed. We were ushered out of the theater as we yelled obscenities at the screen.
But regardless of all of the fear and confusion in the world today, I believe in us.
The class of 2020 will prevail. We’ve been through a lot together. We watched from a distance as our school burned, we witnessed Cardi B rise to the top of the charts far too many times, and now we have our senior year that has indefinitely been put on hold by a global health emergency. But we have never let anything stop us, and certainly we won’t allow it this time. Even if we never get our senior prom, trip, or graduation, we will overcome the challenges set before us by this pandemic.
I love every single one of my fellow seniors. I’d like to believe I know them quite well by now, and I know just what we are capable of. We will continue to be as connected, as driven, and as eager as we have always been. When the pandemic finally subsides, all returns to normal, and people begin to reemerge from their homes, they will come out to see the class of 2020 proudly leading the way.
There may be a lot of uncertainty right now, but this I can guarantee.
by Aaron Wolf