Dreams of senior events at the end of our high school careers have been crushed by the appearance of the wild coronavirus. Imagine starting high school, watching your senior friends that you grew attached to walk the stage and graduate, and when it is your turn, it isn’t even going to happen. Not only are graduations cancelled, but many seniors will also miss out on their spring senior night, senior prom and many other senior traditions that many were very excited for. This is what is happening to thousands of seniors across the world due to the pandemic. Not only is this virus affecting seniors, but also the people who have influenced and inspired them won’t be able to celebrate with seniors in order to prevent a pandemic from getting worse.
COVID-19 is a virus that mainly affects the respiratory system in someone’s body but affects people more intensely if they are older or have pre-existing health conditions. According to the New York Times, the virus started in China in late December of 2019 and spread to the United States a little under a month later. Due to the virus rapidly spreading, schools and other non-essential businesses shut down and people began to self-quarantine and isolate themselves at home.
Boston Public Schools officially shut down on March 17, 2020 and will remain closed for the remainder of the school year. Spring is one of the greatest and most challenging times for seniors because of getting ready for college and other events that celebrate the last year in high school. However, since COVID-19 exists, this senior spring will be extremely different.
Caitlin Francis, senior advisor and senior teacher, made the switch to online learning when schools closed and has set a google classroom for every class she teaches. She also has zoom office hour meetings for students and announces when they are going to happen virtually for when people need extra support. Before quarantine, she used to provide office hours as many times as she could and provide opportunities for people to make up work and get help on assignments whenever it was needed. Earlier this school year, my grades dropped a lot and she helped divide what I needed to make up and stayed after school with me to help me finish work. Now that school has gone virtual, Francis says, “I miss my students so badly and I am always wondering whether or not I’m supporting them enough when I don’t get to see them in person.”
Keith Belcher-White, a senior at the Academy of the Pacific Rim, is struggling with his online classes. It was easier to get the work done and understand the lessons better while in school because, “sometimes [I] need that small push to get [me] going.” Because he doesn’t get the support he needs, he hasn’t been studying at all.
For students who can’t work independently, it will be hard for them to take an Advanced Placement (AP) exam that is online and that also has no multiple-choice questions. AP exams are issued by the College Board and scored on a five-point scale. A three is a passing score for most colleges, but some more academically rigorous universities will only accept a four or a five for class credit. There is no harm in failing, but if someone were to meet the college’s passing score or higher, it is highly encouraged to submit the score to gain college credit for a class and then be able to take more advanced classes earlier. APs are especially helpful if the AP class is aligned with what one plans to major in college. Typically, if a student were to take AP classes they would in their junior and senior years of high school.
According to the College Board website, AP exams have been reduced to free-response only and the allotted time has been cut in half. This makes the exam harder because, from the first-hand experience of taking AP exams in my junior year, the multiple-choice has helped boost my overall score and helped with my free-response questions. Now that classes are online, it consists of more independent learning which makes it trickier to retain information than learning in a traditional classroom.
Although AP classes are harder, there are people still struggling with their honors or even regular classes. Being a senior in high school, you need to be able to pass your classes to graduate and virtual schooling is making it harder because of internalized senioritis, being tired of school and also needing to focus on college decisions.
The pandemic has also caused many seniors to not have a traditional prom this year. Many schools may have their prom canceled or have a virtual prom due to COVID-19. At the Academy of the Pacific Rim, for the 44 senior graduates in the class of 2020, there was a google form survey sent out with many different options as alternatives to prom. Francis mentioned options such as, “a virtual prom with our own DJ over zoom, joining a nation-wide virtual prom event or canceling prom altogether.” Currently, there has been no definite solution to what is going to happen for prom this year.
Throughout this entire school year, I believe all high-school seniors have been finishing the college process, taking leadership roles in and out of school and been working very hard this entire school year despite the intense senioritis feeling of just wanting to graduate. Especially now, of all times, when we have to do our part to try to stop the pandemic, we all need to put those crowns on our heads and know that we are amazing and royals no matter our gender, race and whatever else makes us all unique.
Despite having to learn virtually, Francis is still staying positive through all this and I think we all should too. She shared that her hope, “is that seniors will be able to take something meaningful away from all this and grow from it, and become even stronger than before.”