Class of 2020 faces an unprecedented ending
May 15, 2020
While normally Friday the 13th carries superstitious sentiments of bad luck, the class of 2020 would never be prepared for the spiral of misfortune catalyzed after Friday, March 13, 2020– the senior’s effective last day of high school. A Friday initially scheduled with events like an upbeat pep rally, an exciting Mr. Duke contest and a thrilling girls indoor track and field meet would inevitably reflect increasing apprehension and worry. With all extracurricular events canceled and the district utilizing an emergency late start time, the hallways felt emptier than usual, as students and teachers discussed in uncertainty– desks separated and hand sanitizer ready– about what the future may hold.
Everyone hurriedly left the building that day believing school would return in three weeks. At that point in time, no one knew the true severity of the pandemic. However, the seniors would never return to walk the halls as York students again.
“I remember leaving my eighth period [AP European History] class with some of my classmates, and we took a goodbye picture with our teacher,” senior Steve Chornij said. “All of a sudden school was canceled for three weeks and, while we hoped we’d come back, no one really knew if we’d see each other again.”
As the weeks progressed, society gradually altered the norms of everyday life to combat the spread of COVID-19. First closing nonessential businesses then inevitably instituting a stay-at-home order before face masks and gloves became standard, the reality for which Chornij and many others feared seemed to come true. Unfortunately, with the unexpected nature of the last day, most seniors did not experience a proper parting.
The truth of the matter began to sink in for the class of 2020 as students, living entirely at home away from their friends, missed out on countless end of the year activities with each day that passed– from film festivals to state conventions and, perhaps most prominently, senior prom. While the fate of graduation still remains uncertain, some strongly treasure that the lost memories from the final stretch of high school far more than any potential event or ceremony.
“Everyone is going to remember that the class of 2020 didn’t have a prom or graduation, but people are going to forget that we missed out on the little memories and moments of every day during our last months at York,” senior Sebastian Rohn said. “The actual genuine happiness we get is from the little things like skipping class with your friends, filming announcements in YTV, going to the senior courtyard during lunch or even just cracking jokes in math class. For me, those memories are much more valuable.”
The final months of a student’s time at York serve to honor all their accomplishments from not just over the past four years, but for their entire life. As a result of the situation, the class of 2020 will not receive a proper send-off into their future. All of the traditions expected to take place during senior year seemed to vanish from their grasp. Normally, May 1, or Decision Day, becomes a date for seniors to celebrate their future by wearing apparel at school to represent their post-high school plans.
“One event that I really missed was Decision Day,” Chorinij said. “Every year seeing the seniors wearing their college shirts on May 1, I was pretty pumped to wear my gear and see where all my classmates were going.”
Still, all was not lost, as seniors Nida Ahmed, Ronan Doyle and Sydney Krueger remained determined to uphold this long withstanding tradition. The trio created an Instagram page and a virtual map to showcase what seniors will be doing next year. They began posting like “rapid-fire,” as Ahmed describes, at midnight on Decision Day.
“It was two in the morning and so many seniors were on the page congratulating each other,” Ahmed said. “It was nice to have a mini celebration and even though we weren’t in school. I think our grade was definitely connected in a way; the whole thing was really bittersweet.”
Photo by Lucy Valeski
Performing arts students experience abrupt end
Not being able to experience events like Decision Day, Prom and other senior activities proves difficult for students. Moreover, sorrow has definitely been felt by performing arts students at this school. To work so hard in order to put something together is something that York Drama has been doing for years. But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all rehearsals were put on hold and the show was suspended indefinitely. It’s hard for performing arts students not to be upset during a time like this, but students are hopeful for a bright future.
“This show was something different, out of the four years of shows I’ve done at York, the creative approach we had to this show was very special,” said senior Sebastian Rohn who was casted as Judas in the show. “I think that made Jesus Christ Superstar more exciting to be a part of. Everyone thought this show was going to be different and were excited for a unique experience. Having that taken away made it even more difficult for the entire cast. I mean, as hard as it is, we just have to stay positive.”
Just like the cast of Jesus Christ Superstar, the advanced dance class also learned what it’s like to lose the power of coming together to make something creative. The group of dancers in the class got so close with one another, the class has still been able to be creative by having students come up with their own choreography and having students follow along with virtual choreography.
“Since we have to stay quarantined, we aren’t able to get the satisfaction of dancing and having fun with our friends and teachers who have become like family to us,” senior Hannah Maloy of advanced dance said. “Our dance instructor still has us dancing during quarantine, whether it’s following along with a dance she makes up or she has us make our own dances which have been a really cool experience.”
Similar to those in advanced dance, students in the music department have also experienced COVID-19’s negative impact on their senior year. Staying in touch virtually has been a helpful tool for many musicians in order to rehearse and communicate, unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same benefits as before. Nonetheless, these students have still continued to do what they love and work hard.
“I think all of the kids in the orchestra and the fine arts, in general, are really getting hit hard by not being able to congregate and make music together because that’s really the only thing we do. We can practice alone, but it’s really magical when the music comes together. Therefore, it’s really sad when we don’t have that ability anymore,” senior viola player Johanna Kramer said. “I have weekly private lessons over Zoom for two hours on Saturday mornings. We work on piano, music theory, and viola. It’s a really great tool so I can continue to grow my musicianship while still in self-isolation.”
Final season lost for senior spring athletes
On April 21, the IHSA Board of Directors canceled spring state tournaments amid the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the board then called off the seasons for all spring sports.
For senior spring athletes, they are heavily impacted by the loss of their final season as a York Duke.
“My season being canceled due to COVID-19 has severely changed and affected my life,” senior long jumper Kameron Stearns said. “Before everything happened, we had a goal and I had goals to achieve this season and we were robbed of the opportunity to achieve those goals, it’s been very hard for me.”
Spring sports teams met the major challenges of keeping its athletes connected throughout social distancing guidelines. Since teams aren’t able to be together, senior spring athletes are met with a level of accountability to keep the team united.
“To stay connected, my closest friends on my team and I have sent old videos we took of us celebrating after games on the bus and to look back at the memories we made together during soccer,” senior soccer player Olivia Barnhart said.
Spring teams also committed to staying in shape and working out despite the lack of a season. Senior athletes are finding methods to stay active while following proper distance protocol.
“I’ve been doing workouts every day in my house and if it’s nice out I’ll go on a run for a little to get some fresh air,” senior soccer player Katelyn Janowiak said.
COVID-19 and its challenges are something the world has not been met with before, and it has impacted everyone in some way.
Although spring athletes had their final, most cherished season of their respective sport taken away as a result of the Coronavirus, it offers a lesson on appreciation and representation in the future.
“For the current juniors and incoming seniors, I would say to cherish every moment that you have with your team,” senior lacrosse player Harrison Proud said. “Play your heart out because not only are you representing your team and your school, but you’re also representing the seniors before you who weren’t able to complete in their final season.”