24 June 2020
“It’s just so unfulfilling to not end up enjoying the end of the road –graduation– as much as I enjoyed the memories that led to the end of road: Kindergarten through twelfth grade,” said senior Mishael Roy.
For most seniors, the entrance of the coronavirus has been a monumental and startling end to high school. When Howard County public schools shut down at the end of March 13th, the consensus among most teachers and students was that schools would be shut for less than a month. The break was dubbed “coronacation”, and people planned parties and social outings rather than considering how to prepare for a long-term shutdown. As the shut-down was extended to the 27th of March to the 24th of April, then the 15th of May, and finally to the end of the school year, it became evident that a virtual graduation would be the only option.
“I don’t even think I’m going to look at it,” said senior Craig Benjamin. Many of his peers share his view that this has kept them from several of the iconic experiences that graduating classes have been enjoying for years. Beyond walking across the stage, this year’s seniors have missed out on a senior week at Ocean City, as well as watching their junior and underclassmen friends stagger through an extra month of schooling that they don’t have to attend. “Corona has literally ruined this year for me– I haven’t seen anyone in months.”
On the flip side is senior Vincent Nimmo, who believes the school system has done its best to create a memorable experience for the seniors. “It’s not walking across the stage, but we’re going to be on TV, so what more could one ask for? I saw a lot of other schools’ graduations, and ours was phenomenal.”
While the consensus on the virtual graduation was mixed, a large majority of students and parents said they enjoyed the social-distancing graduation that was held on June 1st. “It was so fun,” said senior Devin Bautz. “The PTSA did an amazing job.”
Principal Mr. Robert Motley said that students and parents were “thrilled– it was fantastic. I always say that graduation is 30% for the students,” the other 70% being for parents and teachers to commemorate. This one felt different to him, however, because the seniors were so excited to have some sort of physical graduation ceremony. Atholton and Glenelg seniors were the only ones in the county to have one.
Some students even say that they are happier with the virtual graduation, citing their preference for sending in a video as opposed to graduating in real time, where a mistake like tripping could put a damper on the experience. Others feel that the school system could have waited out the virus and hold a graduation at a later date, in order to allow Howard County seniors to enjoy the experience that they have been working for over the past twelve years.
“I am heartbroken my year has ended this way, but very relieved that my family and I are healthy”, said Bautz. “And I am not giving up hope that we will have a senior celebration when everything is better.”