The disappointing ending for the Class of 2020

WJ%27s+Class+of+2019++prepares+for+the+start+of+their+graduation+ceremony.+The+Class+of+2020+did+not+get+to+have+a+lot+of+the+typical+senior+events+because+of+COVID-19%2C+and+probably+will+not+get+a+proper+graduation+either.

Photo courtesy of Ms. Baker

WJ's Class of 2019 prepares for the start of their graduation ceremony. The Class of 2020 did not get to have a lot of the typical senior events because of COVID-19, and probably will not get a proper graduation either.

Thomas Wolfson, Print Editor in Chief

Governor Larry Hogan recently extended the closure of all Maryland schools through May 15, in response to the continued impact of COVID-19. Although I’m no medical expert, it seems highly unlikely that the coronavirus will be out of our lives come May 15. Chances are, Hogan will only further extend the closure, eventually. It’s a gloomy outlook, but probably the correct one. This latest extension of the closure is a strong indication that we will not be returning to school this year.

Typically, closing schools is something that students celebrate — think holidays, snow days and in MCPS, even wind days. But no one ever wanted this. To be blunt, and rather ineloquent, this stinks.

It’s an unfortunate end of the year for everyone, but it hits especially hard for the Class of 2020. The last part of our high school careers is a time we typically spend counting down the days until we’re done, looking forward to whatever’s next, while at the same time reminiscing on how everything went by so quickly. 

We don’t get any of that. Instead, we’re all cooped up inside our homes, realizing we’ve probably walked through the halls of WJ for the last time. You realize that there are certain classmates you’ve gotten to know over these last four years that you may not see again; teachers and staff members who have positively shaped your life who you may not get to thank in person. It’s hard.

I don’t mean to sound melodramatic. People can make high school out to be a bigger deal than it is. I’ve heard some people apply the saying “college is the best four years of your life” to high school instead. I don’t think that’s the case. High school isn’t smooth sailing for anyone, and I’m confident WJ’s class of 2020 has much better days ahead of them.

That said, I can’t help but feel that our high school experience is not fully complete. We’ve all worked hard to get to this point. We got lost in the hallways as freshman, started to take more AP’s and hard classes as sophomores and had to deal with the stress of SAT’s and ACT’s as juniors and seniors. We got through college apps and relatives and family friends constantly inquiring “I know you’re probably tired of talking about college, but tell me…” Now would have been the time for us to enjoy the fruits of our labors. 

It’s more than just that, though. Generations and generations of students before us have had that typical high school ending: a prom, a graduation ceremony and saying your proper goodbyes. It’s a rite of passage. For years, the closing times of high school have been a shared experience; an experience all students go through no matter where they’re from, what their race is, whether they’re rich or poor, going to college or entering the workforce. The class of 2020 does not get that. The end of our time as high school students is a time that we’ll always remember because of how truly forgettable it actually was.

To me, not experiencing a real graduation ceremony is the worst part — yes, I know WJ hasn’t officially canceled anything, but it seems inevitable at this point. I know other high schools around the country are looking into doing a ceremony later in the summer if possible, or maybe even next year. Although I suppose both of those options are better than nothing, it just won’t feel the same.

I remember going to my older sister’s graduation ceremony as a freshman. It was just such a cool event to witness. I myself was feeling a little sentimental for my sister. She wasn’t just graduating from high school, she was graduating from the same smaller community she had known all her life. Wearing that cap and gown marked the culmination of her time as a kid and her first introduction into the real world.

I started to envision what mine might look like, when I finally got to put on that cap and gown. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like that time will come for us, the Class of 2020. Sure, we’re still going to graduate and move on in life like every class before us has, but it just doesn’t feel as momentous. It just feels incomplete.

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