Sunday, May 24, 2020

COVID-19 and Its Impact On Seniors

By: Kaelin Hughes/Content Editor

Senior year. From what anyone is told, it’s supposed to be the best year of your high school career, right? The last first days, games, concerts, and finally, the last time you’ll ever step foot in the halls for classes are the things that seniors look forward to every year. This year, however, has shown that it will end abnormally.

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States, many states have enacted “stay-at-home” orders, leaving students out of the classroom for an indefinite period of time. This has resulted in many events being postponed or cancelled.

Many seniors have had their chance to play their sport in the fall or winter season, but they and many others will not have an opportunity to do so in the spring. These students now will not be able to receive recognition for their dedication to their sports during a Senior Night, qualify for Districts, Regionals, and/or States, or some may not be able to have a proper signing day for colleges. Liberty Graves, who has been dedicated to the track and field team since her sophomore year, feels “disappointed, I was really looking forward to my last season of track.” She believes the initial closure Pennsylvania schools had was essentially teasing her into thinking she’d be able to compete, but is now devastated that she will not be able to in high school again.

Aside from sports, students involved in the music program at Blue Ridge are also prevented from having important events happen. Seniors in band will not have the opportunity to play altogether for an audience again, as they have not had a concert since last December. Chorus, however, has had an opportunity to sing for their spring concert, but are now unable to perform for their yearly cabaret concert. Aside from concerts at school, students will not be able to attend festivals. Blue Ridge students attend festivals for Pennsylvania Music Educators Association (PMEA), but seniors KayLeen Conklin and Spencer Renwick will not be able to attend the Region Band or All-State (chorus) festival, respectively, and Jazz Fest, which was to be held at Blue Ridge, has been canceled.

Continuing with the arts, seniors involved in the theater department’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof” are unable to have their last moment on stage at Blue Ridge. These students have dedicated hours of rehearsal into this show since January, but their efforts must unfortunately come to a standstill for the time being. The production has been cancelled.

Even beyond extracurriculars and music, crucial events that bring the end to senior year have been delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prom has been postponed. The annual senior trip, this year’s being a five day trip to Virginia Beach, has been cancelled, and all students who have made payments, besides fundraising, will receive refunds. Even though the trip was anticipated to be fun, there is one last ceremony the seniors long for the most.

According to a letter released on March 31st, superintendent Matthew Button states that “graduation will be one of the most important items for our school to address and as we get to the month of May we evaluate the guidance being provided by our Federal and State governments and then make decisions on how to best honor our Class of 2020 Seniors.” The plan(s) for graduation have been discussed by the class, and with the help of class officers Gia Fiore, KayLeen Conklin, Morgan Mansfield, and Sarah Marble, class advisor Mrs. Kimberly Davenport, and the administration at Blue Ridge, have been set to be as safe as possible for the students and families, and allow them to have aspects of a normal graduation. At this ceremony, students will receive their honors/awards/scholarships as they receive their diploma in place of an Honors Night ceremony.

This year has been very interesting, and seniors who have rolled with the punches from these trying times deserve to be appreciated for all of their hard work. Although the final moments of their year cannot happen or have been changed, these students will be recognized no matter what.

Kaelin Hughes
Kaelin Hughes is a determined second year journalism student taking on her senior year at Blue Ridge. She has participated in Leo Club, National Honor Society, and theater. When you don't have any idea of where Kaelin is, she can be found doing anything music or theater related, stressing out over classes, or sleeping. Her future goals consist of attending college, but unsure of a specific path, since her ideas change at any given moment, but she's working on it, hoping to go through the motions of life.

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