Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Pandemic ends all high school senior year traditions

High School graduations have been postponed due to the pandemic. Photo by @chrisfloresfoto via Twenty20

The final months of high school are usually the most memorable. It’s prom,where you spend the night dancing with your friends wearing a dress or tuxedo. Then there’s graduation, walking across the stage with a cap and gown after your name gets called out in front of your family and friends.

But not for the class of 2020.

The coronavirus killed that dream for high schoolers across the country. And the seniors of Bayfront Charter High School are mourning all the memories lost.

“After 12 years of hard work, I almost made it to the finish line,” said Damarys Felix, a senior at Bayfront Charter High School. “But no, it took a different turn to where there’s no promise that I will be able to experience walking on the stage to receive my diploma.”

Graduating from high school is meaningful to many families, but for Felix’s family it’s more special, she described it as the “American Dream.”  

“Being able to accomplish their goal, giving my siblings and I a better future,” said Felix. “It can be kind of discouraging to carry a positive mentality and then not being able to have that moment to celebrate my accomplishment.”

Ezra Martinez, 18, said the senior traditions are important.

 “It’s just something all seniors do, it’s part of your life,” said Martinez. “Mostly everyone goes through it, so it really wouldn’t be fair if we didn’t.”

Graduation was the last high school memory he’d been looking forward to.

“It hurts to think that,‘Wow I probably really won’t be able to walk on the stage and get my name called out,’” said Martinez. 

Adriana Ezpinoza, 18, believed she would be returning to school shortly after the lockdown. She regrets not saying goodbye to her friends.

“I miss hugging them and joking around with them,” said Espinoza. “I didn’t really get to say goodbye properly thinking I was going to return to school.”

Anthony Garcia, 18, also did not believe the school closures will last. He said these last minute changes have affected him emotionally.  

“We’re all used to seeing each other daily and having that change very drastically is kind of hard for us,” said Gacia. “It makes me emotional because I don’t get to experience it like everybody else did.”

Sara Lim, 18, is part of the school’s graduation committee. Along with other students and teachers they discussed possibilities to make sure they have a ceremony. 

“They’re expecting to celebrate us eventually once this is over and it’s safe,” said Lim. “But as of right now, we’re trying to find ways for us to be celebrated following the social distancing rules.”  

Looking forward to attending graduation and prom was helping students through this pandemic, she said. These seniors were supposed to have prom on April 25th.

“I was really considering just wearing my dress at home and like being sad in it,” said Espinoza. 

Although Espinoza did not wear her dress, Felix did. Her sisters took photos of her in different dresses. They later walked upstairs to the rooftop and surprised her with a small prom.

“I kind of cried you know because it’s such a memorable day that you expect it to actually happen and be around your friends,” said Felix. “But having my sisters and my family do it for me was very special.” 

Grad night, which was a trip to Disneyland, was canceled too. “I was really looking forward to spending the night at Disney with my friends, it just sounded like a really great experience with them before we left high school,” said Ezpinoza.

But these seniors are still at the start of their lives.

“Hold on for the ride, because it doesn’t end here for sure,” said Garcia. “There’s still a lot more ahead of us.”




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