One year ago, none of us imagined that schools would close, the economy would shut down, or that we would experience a world-wide pandemic. Although we have all been impacted by COVID-19, those who graduated from high school in 2020 were especially gypped of the traditions that helped them say good-bye to high school and begin a new chapter in their lives. We asked four students what it was like being a senior in 2020, and how the pandemic might impact their future plans. Here’s what they said, in their words.
How did you celebrate your graduation during the pandemic?
Jensen: I had a drive-by reception where people dropped off cards and congratulated me. Although it was not what i had always envisioned, I was still happy to celebrate in some way.
Garret: I did not celebrate my graduation during the pandemic, considering the moral obligation to social distance.
Ethyn: My high school is having a ceremony in July. We will be having a party.
Latrell: I celebrated my graduation by having a card shower instead of a traditional graduation party, and then I had a big family dinner.
What are your plans for fall?
Jensen: I will attend the University of Nebraska at Kearney to major in biology and play volleyball.
Garret: This fall I will attend Nebraska Wesleyan University (NWU) without a decided major. I will likely pursue a degree in biology or pre-med.
Ethyn: I will attend the University of Nebraska at Omaha for pre-Physical Therapy.
Latrell: My plans for the fall are to attend Metro Community College and begin my electrical apprenticeship schooling.
Did you have to adjust your plans because of COVID-19? If so, in what way.
Jensen: Several of my plans were affected by COVID-19 including traveling and training for volleyball. Thankfully my trips were rescheduled, and I was able to Zoom with my club volleyball team to keep in touch virtually.
Garret: Because of the pandemic, my plans to compete in the We the People national finals were canceled. My team of nine was supposed to fly out to DC to compete against many other states. This was devastating because my team’s extensive studies of the U.S. Constitution were not allowed to be expressed.
Ethyn: As of now, no change in plans for the fall.
Latrell: No I did not have to adjust my plans.
What are you most excited about for the fall?
Jensen: I’m most excited to meet new people and really challenge myself academically.
Garret: I am excited to experience life at college with an ongoing pandemic and how the normal lifestyle will be changed on campus. I am even more excited that NWU is allowing in-person classes.
Ethyn: I am excited about living on my own.
Latrell: I’m most excited to begin a new chapter in my life this fall.
What advice do you have for current high school seniors?
Jensen: I know everyone says not to wish your senior year away, but take it from someone who wasn’t able to experience the best part of their high school career. Work hard in class and enjoy every moment you have with your friends.
Garret: I want current high school seniors to realize that your grades do not define your academic significance. I received a 4.3 or 4.4 weighted GPA at the end of high school and it did not do much for me. However, caring about your grades is important. It gives you a foundation of good work ethic inside and outside of the classroom.
Ethyn: Don’t take your senior year or high school years for granted.
Latrell: My advice for current seniors is to never take a day for granted because you never know when the opportunity to go to school will be taken away.