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On being a class of 2020 senior

By Ella Kohler
Hometown Weekly Intern

Each year, high school seniors both celebrate the end of high school and work to comprehend what that means to them. Through graduation ceremonies, proms, goodbyes to teachers, and a series of lasts (last day, last class, last bell), seniors make peace with the end of this enormous life chapter.

For 2020 seniors, things look a little different. There are no caps thrown in unison, no satin gowns sweeping across Gillette’s dance floor, no front-yard corn-hole games alongside dressed-up friends and extended family. Instead, we deal with a chopped-off, reconfigured, unrecognizable year end. So, our feelings look a little different, too.

Being a 2020 senior means feeling a lot, while also not quite knowing how to feel. When your last day looks like a kitchen table, feels like a computer, and sounds like a teacher cutting in and out with the internet connection, there is little sense of accomplishment or celebration. The day cuts out instantly with an “end call” button.

When the next day happens to be “summer,” which looks strikingly similar to “school,” the question we are asking is, “Now what?” Okay, we kind of finished high school. Now, we kind of have a summer. In a few days, the Rolling Rally is happening — maybe we kind of have a graduation. We must decide what these strange realities mean to us.

As we move through this unusual senior spring, most seniors yearn for a taste of the celebration we so eagerly awaited. Despite the community’s extra efforts and a country full of “Senior Strong” posters, we cannot help but see that nothing but a real, traditional year-end will be enough to completely resolve our grade-wide disappointment. 

At the same time, we are forced to realize that many events will not be postponed or adapted. Some parts of the senior experience will simply be cancelled, and some already have been. We will have to swallow the unappetizing truth that, no matter how hard you work and wish for something, you cannot always choose your perfect reality. 

Beyond the more surface-level disappointment comes the long-term issue of closure. Without clear-cut, official endings, we struggle to wrap our heads around the end of high school. A normal resolution was nonexistent, and lost events only serve to reinforce the feeling that high school never truly ended.

Consequently, at a time during which seniors would usually have said their goodbyes and begun to look forward, we grapple with a foggy ending and an uncertain future. With our minds still waiting for high school to feel complete, we struggle to fully accept the names on our new college tee-shirts as our homes. 

Plus, even if we are ready to focus on future college or job plans, we are not sure exactly what these plans will look like amidst the pandemic. We temper our excitement in case the next year contains more distancing and screens than dorms and lecture halls.

Still, we realize that despite these challenges, for many of us, we are the lucky ones. Although we are disappointed, most of us are living comfortably through this crisis. While our sadness is real, a handful of lost events seems a fair price to pay in order to save lives. 

So, we are remembering our privilege while longing for the fun we once expected and hoping for the closure we still need. We are wondering if we will ever experience the mix of excitement and finality that graduation usually entails, and we are wondering what to do if the answer is no.

Ultimately, our story is currently overflowing with question marks and disappointments. It is characterized by unspoken goodbyes and events crossed off the calendar. Yet, like our last twelve years together, our story is also full of “we's."

In Medfield, a town where the same group of students travel together from elementary school to high school, our experience is colored by each other. Our peers, more so than our official events, have been the defining force behind the last chapter of our lives. 

Now, the pandemic leaves us itching for togetherness, certain that we will appreciate our shared interactions more than ever before. We are a grade given the opportunity to reflect on our lives and experience a new dimension of gratitude.

While our current situation is in many ways not ideal, it is a part of our story that we are living together. With all that we are feeling and not feeling as we navigate our uncertain present and future, we are grounded by this unity.

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